A Reasonable Facsimile
A facsimile (fax) machine is a must, often more useful than the telephone. Many foreigners are more comfortable communicating in written English than speaking over the phone. According to most accounts the facsimile was invented by a Scottish physician, Alexander Bain, in 1842, although World Book Encyclopedia attributes it to F. C. Bakewell, a London inventor, and his "copying telegraph." In the 1940s, facsimile transmitters were used by the Allies to send weather and troop maps. But the devices in those days required more than a bit of technical finesse. Fax machines are well-standardized. Unlike modem use, there is no need to grapple with baud rates, parity, echoplex, or data bits. Most of the fax machines available include a phone system so that they can allow access to voice calls as well as fax transmission. Many machines also offer storage of a variable number of frequently used fax phone numbers.