Following on from my post about my decline in printer use, I am struck today by another piece of hardware that seems to be going the way of the dinosaurs - the fax machine.
Although the principles involved were being established in the 1860s, I remember the fax machine being introduced into the accountancy firm I worked at in the 1980s. At the time it seemed a wonderous device and, although it only became useful once the "network effect" kicked-in (after machines were widely adopted), quickly became the default way of sending documents urgently.
We only had one fax machine in the office because they were expensive at the time. Often there would be a small queue of people waiting to use it and when it was my turn invariably it decided to have a "paper jam" or the paper roll ran out receiving. Still it was a useful bit of kit.
Writing this in 2012 I honestly cannot remember the last time I received a fax, or was asked to send one. Although PC-fax and then fax to Email services quickly came along to replace the standalone fax machine, it seems that the very idea of faxing seems to have simply died away.
Of course the Internet and especially email, with its ability to transmit digital copies of original documents rather than pictures of the documents, was the nemesis of the fax. Even the signing of documents can now be handled by software instead.
What was a marvellous new service has become a distant memory in the space of just 30 years. As the pace of technology change has increased substantially since the 1980s, today's losers in the race will be forgotten even quicker still.