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1970s

Digital FAX machine

Early digital fax machine

Fax machines of the late 1960s were expensive, slow, and much larger than the desktop sizes common today. In 1970, SRI contracted with Savin, CBS Television Services, and Dacom to develop a faster, more economical solution. With the optical scanner and modem sources in hand and using SRI printer and signal processing skills, development proceeded rapidly. The prototype, called the Z-60, resulted in a digital facsimile machine that, though initially bulky, could scan, compress, and transmit data at 4,800 bits per second—fast enough to give it a clear market advanced over existing fax machines.

By 1973, Ricoh acquired the rights to the technology; they formed a subsidiary, Rapifax Corporation, to market and distribute the new machine. The RIFAX 600s became the world’s first commercially available digital fax machine.

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