How I Learned the Fax of Life
1987. I was a junior editor for a hi-fi magazine called Sound&Vision, a magazine about cutting-edge home entertainment.
I’ll never forget the day my ingenious editor and friend Allan Lofft told me that one of our correspondents was going to send us a story from Japan. Via something called a fax.
“Say,” I said, “What?”
“A fax.” Allan said. “Brian [I’m pretty sure that was his name] will put a sheet of paper on the machine in Tokyo and he’ll dial a number and then you will go down to the post office on Adelaide street and pick it up.”
I thought: “No foolin’!”
Brian was going to put a piece of paper on a machine in Tokyo and it was going to appear in Toronto. As if.
(It reminded me of how the queen of England must have felt in Bob Newhart’s old shtick in which Sir Walter Raleigh phones her to explain cigarettes. “Yes, your Majesty. You roll the paper into a tiny tube. Then, you, um, insert the tube into your mouth. And then you, well, yes, you light it on fire.”)
But Allan had never lied to me before. Allan wasn’t at all like my older brother Tom who once sent me on an errand all over town looking for striped paint.
So I hightailed it over to the post office and lo and behold wouldn’t you know there was a story from Tokyo.
Funny how 25 years ago, the “fax” was the very cutting-est edge of communications technology but now it seems as quaint as a dial phone.
Am I feeling old or what? And why does 25 years ago seem like yesterday but 25 years in the future seem like it’ll never arrive?
These are the questions that will consume yours truly for some days over next few months.
Because at the very same time as I was being schooled in faxing, a group of gentlemen in another part of Toronto were conspiring to launch a new magazine.
The schemers were Jim Glionna, Rolf Lockwood, Tony Hohenadel, Wilson Smith and Phil Knox. And the magazine they were planning was the one I’m now the editor of: Today’s Trucking.
The plan: Deliver an information-packed magazine to the owners and managers of Canada’s trucking industry. It’d come out 10 times a year and be mailed directly to about 29,000 trucking execs. The magazine would be full of important trucking stuff; stuff they couldn’t get anywhere else. And it’d go hither and yon, taking industry intelligence to the very outer limits of this trucking-reliant society we call Canada.
That was then. Though the monthly magazine remains the backbone of the operation, the company has exploded into a multi-media animal that includes this website, a huge truck show (Truck World), video production and daily news gathering and reporting. Not only that but our circulation now includes thousands of owner-operators and we are distributed via truck stops in addition to the original subscribers.
We’ve got trucking covered. And we do it differently than we used to.
Because of the Internet, the magazine serves quite a different purpose than it did a quarter century ago. Our readers have all sorts of previously unavailable information at their fingertips, every day. So the magazine must provide a completely different and useful service. And by all accounts, people are still reading us — we’re pulling it off. (Like the late stand-up Mitch Hedberg might say “We used to deliver relevant information to truckers. We still do, but we used to, too.)
And we’re also in the throes of putting together a special August issue, celebrating those 25 years with a special emphasis on the next 25. (For one thing Google tells me that by 2037, California will have been hit by a catastrophic earthquake. For some reason, I’m thinking some of our readers who are fed up by that State’s burdensome regulations will be okay with the idea.)
Meantime, as we put the final ingredients into our birthday-cake issue, I'm desperately poking around for old photos and other memorabilia to help liven up the August issue.
If you find any you’d like to share, you can send them along. Hey maybe you can fax’em.
It’s easy. You just lay the photo or paper flat on the screen and, just as if you were making a phone call, punch 416 614-8861 and press….