Fax Machine Tuesdays - TomAndThat

Fax Machine Tuesdays

A makeshift fax machine, composed of a small thermal receipt printer connected to a raspberry pi

For reasons I can’t fully explain, I’ve always loved the idea of owning a fax machine.

Clearly, 21st century communication has become infinitely more convenient than whenever it was that fax machines were commonly used. But there’s just something about having a message physically print off for you to read that feels just a little bit more exciting.

Of course, for many of us the dream of genuine fax ownership can never be realised.

This is largely because you also need a second person with a fax machine to message, and be messaged by. If one person owning a fax machine in the year of our lord 2023 seems unlikely, two is a virtual impossibility.

So, to remedy the situation, I’ve decided to make my own, internet-enabled fax device.

Introducing TomsFax.com

Anyone who visits this website can now submit a message, which will then physically print off in my actual home.

Plus, every Tuesday evening I spend an hour or two on TikTok live reading out your messages as they come in.

A form which users may fill in, allowing them to submit messages to the fax machine

At the time of writing I’m four TikTok lives in, and we’ve covered a whole host of topics so far.

Questions have come in about everything from Korean naming conventions, to which foods can mango chutney be safely enjoyed with.

We’ve also helped Megan from Cambridge decide her academic future, by putting her life choices to a public vote; while the fax machine has been officially named River from Dundee, after a correspondent of the same name.

It’s been a lot of fun building up a little community of fax fans so far. If you’d like to join us, the live kicks off every Tuesday at 8pm.

What Next for the Fax Machine?

There are still a few extra bits I’d like to add on to the website.

In particular, a lot of people have been asking about how the technology behind the fax machine works. I’m hoping to do a little blog post about that in the near future.

In addition, the fax machine currently prints out messages in chronological order; so I’m currently working on a social media-style algorithm, which will promote the most interesting messages to the top of the order.

Also, the machine itself isn’t quite finished yet. In the next few weeks I’ll be housing it inside an old Roberts radio I found knocking about on ebay.

There are a few extra features I’d like to add too. Printing currently happens automatically, but I’d like to add a button so I can control what comes out and when.