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Fax machines allows you to transmit documents. See more computer accessory pictures.

HowStuffWorks.com

You can walk into nearly any office in the United States today, big or small, hi-tech or lo-tech, and you'll find a fax machine. Connected to a normal phone line, a fax machine allows you to transmit pieces of paper to someone else instantly! Even with FedEx and e-mail, it is nearly impossible to do business ­without one of these machines today.

Fax machines have been around in one form or another for more than a century -- Alexander Bain patented the first fax design in 1843 (see Science Line: Alexander Bain & the Fax Machine to learn more). If you look back at some of the early designs, you can get a very good idea of how they work today.

In this article, you'll learn how fax machines work. See the next page to get started.