The first fax service, between the cities of Paris and Lyon, France, a distance of over 200 miles, was established on this date in the year—got a guess? How about 1865, eleven years before Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone?
Better than that, the fax machine was actually patented in 1843, by Alexander Bain, a Scottish clockmaker. He called it a pantelegraph, because he envisioned it transmitting messages over telegraph lines. His invention used pendulums at each end of the line to transmit messages, and he never could them to synchronize, so he threw in the towel.
Twenty years later, a Catholic priest named Giovanni Caselli and his partner, Gustav Froment, got the bugs out and unveiled a fax that sent messages written on ordinary paper, and could send several simultaneously. They demonstrated their device to Emperor Napoleon III of France, who liked it so much he passed a law establishing the world’s first fax service.