PC Update – Jan / Feb 1994

AT&T Surity Data Fax

Link to original article

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately the figures are missing from the article’s source

By Ash Nallawalla

I saw a remarkable piece of software called Fax-O-File from an Israeli company called Fontech Ltd, except that the product has been licensed to AT&T and renamed Surity. It is easier to describe what it does by referring you to Figures 5 and 6. Figure 5 is a photograph of my children (Keith and Kate, for the record); it was scanned with the aid of a colour scanner and saved as a PCX file. That file was processed by the, Surity software and out came Figure 6. This black-and-white grid was faxed through a fax modem to a conventional (paper) fax machine. That fax was scanned with the help of a scanner and the image was fed into another copy of Surity. By selecting the appropriate commands, out came the colour image!

Surity/Fax-O-File can be used to send any kind of data, such as an executable program, a spreadsheet file, a graphics file, and so on. I saw a demonstration of the Windows Clock applet being sent in a similar manner. You only need a scanner if the original document is not in your computer. Foreign alphabets are also handled easily.

You might wonder about the noise on phone lines that tends to corrupt faxes. I saw a grid that was defaced by drawing some random lines across it and the contents still made it to the other end because there is some redundancy built into the algorithm. I don’t know how bad a line has to be before the image becomes worthless.

The technology is used also on passports, ID cards, cheques, and other documents where immediate authentication is necessary. Surity is useful for sending long documents quickly. A 50-page text document compresses to two grid pages. Think about how long it takes to transmit the same document via modem.