Data communications over telegraph circuits 1902
Floyd L. Davidson
Fax is very useful for things e-mail cannot do, such as to transmit documents. Sophisticated users might have ways to encode a document as a .PDF and attach it to an email, but many plain users don't have that capability. Or, their correspondant might have not .pdf access even if they have email. People may also have a stand-alone fax machine but not full computer access with email. Many people do not share their email account to maintain privacy and avoid spam. Others only read their email occbuttionally during the day; while fax normally prints immediately. Fax use also takes less skill.
Our office fax machine still gets considerable use. There are still good reasons to have a hard copy.
Data communications over telegraph circuits 1903
In our company, everyone (sophisticated or otherwise) has convenient access to Lexmark multifunction machines (I forget the model # at the moment, and I am typing this from home) which serve as networked printers, copiers...
I didn't follow them too much after divesture, but before divesture they were certainly seeking data business. I also believe top mgmt DID want to get into fields other than switched message traffic, esp Sunday night calls from Grandma which they knew had no profitable future. They went and bought numerous other businesses, but ran into trouble by running them poorly.
As to lack of echo-supression on a circuit that made it so bad as to be unusable, I'm surprised that would go uncorrected so long. WUTR talks about echo supression and other considerations; it's not like that knew nothing about the subject. Good marketing cannot save a lousy product; IBM had its share of failures we don't talk about. Edsel anyone?