HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — George Richards and the fax machine on his desk have been through a lot together.
“It’s kept me company here for years,” said Richards, abc27’s assignment manager, who has been at the station since… well… long enough to remember the station’s first fax machine, “a smaller machine with specially treated paper … thermal paper and a cutting bar.”
Fancy, huh? Well, email was still a decade off, and it beat the mail.
“It was state of the art for like a year,” Richards said. “And then it just it it always had problems.”
He described waiting for critical documents to print slowly, page by page.
“So you pick it up, you look at it, then you wait for the next page,” Richards said. “You pick it up, and you look at it. So it built up some of the suspense, I guess.”
In other words, if the Brother-made machine on his desk (“for the time being sort of parked illegally,” Richards said, because the station engineers already disconnected it) is a dinosaur, at least it’s a relatively recent Cretaceous dinosaur.
Those were the last of the dinosaurs before — well, you know what happened next. And that’s what’s happening with fax machines.
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The practice of faxing? “It’s gradually — and of late, more quickly — being phased out,” Richards said.
But faxes still arrive. Three this week were a from Pennsylvania court providing key information about a man accused of selling body parts on Facebook; the borough of Shippensburg announcing the end to a boil-water alert; and a rabbi in Miami Beach sending his weekly “Shabbat Shalom Fax,” including information about the weekly Torah portion.
So even though the physical fax machine is gone, the fax line still exists: Now, faxes are converted to PDF documents, which show up in Richards’ email inbox on one of those newfangled computers you might have heard of.
For the youngest abc27 staffers, the whole fax era came and went without them ever touching a fax machine. But surely Kaylee Fuller — a recent college graduate and member of the digital team who specializes in search engine optimization, which… well, which veterans like George Richards surely can’t do, if they even know what it is — could use a simple fax machine?
“No. Honestly, no,” Fuller said. “I’ve never used one of those.”
She agreed to try — and guessed correctly where to put the outgoing document.
But wait, Kaylee: You forgot a cover sheet.
“What’s a cover sheet?” she asked.
To her credit, she guessed correctly — without consulting a search engine — before being told the answer.
“Oh, does it have — is that what, like the name of who you’re sending it to?” she asked.