National Signing Day technology: the fax machine

History books teach us that the first wired fax was sent  from Paris to Lyon in 1865. They also teach us that a photograph of United States President Calvin Coolidge sent from New York to London was the first photo sent by wireless fax — in 1924. History books will have you believe that fax machines were invented so that businesses and governments could be more efficient in their transmission of scanned printed material.

Don’t let the history books fool you — fax technology was invented so that decades later it could serve to satiate the appetite of rabid college football fan bases across the country.

It rolls around once every year. And today is the day. National Signing Day in college football is upon us — the first day that a senior in high school can sign a binding National Letter of Intent to play college football at an NCAA school.

NLIs can be delivered by the athletes to their schools by many methods, including:

  • regular mail
  • express mail
  • courier service
  • email
  • fax

Those first four are widely-known and easily explainable — but rarely ever used on National Signing Day. The fifth one on that list — the fax machine — might need some explanation as its only known use is on the first Wednesday in February when large men from around the country need to let coaches know that they will be coming to their school in the fall.

So, you can’t blame yourself for not knowing what a fax machine is. No one knows. But, as a service to our readers, we have copied and pasted this from Wikipedia:

Fax (short for facsimile), sometimes called telecopying or telefax, is the telephonic transmission of scanned printed material (both text and images), normally to a telephone number connected to a printer or other output device. The original document is scanned with a fax machine (or a telecopier), which processes the contents (text or images) as a single fixed graphic image, converting it into a bitmap, and then transmitting it through the telephone system. The receiving fax machine reconverts the coded image, printing a paper copy.

In case you are having a hard time picturing it in your head, here is a picture of a fax machine, also from Wikipedia:

A Samsung fax machine from the late 1990s.

A Samsung fax machine from the late 1990s.

There are, of course, new technologies that have been invented over the last hundred years to compete with the fax machine on National Signing Day. Fax servers and other computerized systems can receive incoming faxes and can also route them to secured servers for storage. There is technology that exists today that allows people to send and receive faxes using their e-mail accounts. These technologies can reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary printing and also reduce the need for any extra hardware or dedicated fax lines. Of course, these solutions are really only suited for people who only very occasionally need to use fax services — you know, like on National Signing Day.