Richard Baguley over at Medium is has a fondness for the pre-email document transmission technology that many of us came to despise.
Every technology has a dark side, and the dark side of the fax was junk faxes. In the 1980s and early 1990s, it wasn’t uncommon to come into the office on monday morning to find your fax machine had received piles of junk faxes advertising dodgy goods, from cheap t-shirts to medical insurance. Companies were set up that would scan every possible phone number, calling and looking for the bippy noise of a fax machine at the other end. For a fee, they would then send your advert to thousands of these devices, whoever they were used by.
On one occasion my office needed a dedicated fax line for a new Mac we'd bought with a built-in Fax/Modem. The phone company still had an adjacent number that we'd used for the fax machine at a company a year or two earlier, so we grabbed that. No sooner had we plugged it in than we started getting junk faxes. They'd been sending them for the whole time that the number had been inactive. Nightmare.