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November 2015 Vol. 53 No. 3

Johns Hopkins University Press

The following review appeared in the November 2015 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Science & Technology
History of Science & Technology

2014-16734 CIP
Coopersmith, Jonathan. Faxed: the rise and fall of the fax machine. Johns Hopkins, 2015. 308p bibl index afp ISBN 9781421415918, $54.95; ISBN 9781421415925 ebook, $54.95.

This volume is part of the "Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology" series and is the first history of the fax machine.  Coopersmith (Texas A&M Univ.) has an accessible, engaging style and takes readers on a chronological journey from an 1843 British patent and the early years of the fax machine’s use in business in the early to mid-twentieth century to its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.  He demonstrates its checkered, multinational history as it was constantly being superseded by less expensive, superior communications technology, from telegraphy, radio, and television to e-mail and cell phones.  Through his recounting of the history of the fax, Coopersmith also explores different ways in which people relate to technology, such as “blackboxing,” which is packaging complex technological equipment into easy-to-use, simple machines.  Ironically, the world of accelerated communications that the fax machine helped forge also fostered the development of the competing technologies that brought about its decline.  As the first history of the fax machine, this book should be part of any history of technology collection.  It also provides an interesting read for general audiences.

--S. M. Frey, Indiana State University

Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels.