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" I sometimes suspect that we're seeing something in the Internet as significant as the birth of cities. It's really something new, it's a new kind of civilization."
- William Gibson

Telautograph  
  First fictional reference to a fax machine.  

This is probably the first mention of a device for sending a signature (or other created graphic image) via telephone in fiction; it is the essence of a fax machine.

She hesitated, and then, impulsively, "I wonder if it would be too much to ask you for your autograph?"

Ralph then attached the Telautograph to his Telephot while the girl did the same. When both instruments were connected he signed his name and he saw his signature appear simultaneously on the machine in Switzerland.

From Ralph 124c 41 +, by Hugo Gernsback.
Published by Modern Electrics in 1911
Additional resources -

Gernsback did not invent the fax machine, or even the idea of sending an image using a telephone. In 1862 the Italian physicist Giovanni Casellie built the pantelegraph which was used by the French Post and Telegraph agency between Paris and Marseilles from 1856 to 1870. The word is a combination of "pantograph" and "telegraph." A pantograph is a device that has a simple physical connection between a pointer and a drawing pen on a piece of paper. By altering the linkage between the pointer and the pen, the scale of the drawing could be increased or decreased. The pantograph dates from 1630. Thomas Jefferson thought they were cool; he built one into Monticello.

The telautograph machine itself was invented by Elisha Gray in 1888 and was displayed at the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. It's purpose was to send handwriting via telegraph lines. See a good article on it at Telautograph Forerunner to Modern Fax.

The first instance of a photograph being sent electronically was in 1902 using a process called telephotography. Find out more at Invention of the Fax Machine

The essential business purpose of a facsimile (or fax) machine is to send a piece of paper with a legal signature. Electronic signatures have made slow progress; it is still a problem with electronic medical records, among other uses.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Ralph 124c 41 +
  More Ideas and Technology by Hugo Gernsback
  Tech news articles related to Ralph 124c 41 +
  Tech news articles related to works by Hugo Gernsback

Telautograph-related news articles:
  - LongPen By Unotchit: Margaret Atwood's Telautograph For Book Signing

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