BISMARCK — North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaegar is venting frustration this Thanksgiving due to a lack of Black Friday fax machine deals following the loss of his beloved fax machine of nearly 50 years.
The Secretary of State’s office uses fax machines to conduct “97% of all business” according to the Secretary’s office. The remaining 3% of business is conducted via mail or face-to-face interactions. The Secretary has yet to implement email in his office, but they hope to do so by 2030.
With a lack of Black Friday deals on fax machines, the Secretary is warning North Dakotans that his office’s work will continue to backlog.
“The fax machine is easily the most reliable form of communication in existence which is why our office uses fax to conduct a majority of our business,” says Jaegar. “From business filings to receiving precinct numbers on election nights, our fax machine is the heart and soul of our office and we’ve come to simply refer to her as ‘Old Reliable.’ Sadly, the sun is setting on her time on this earth and with a lack of Black Friday deals on fax machines, our office may be forced to close its doors until we can find a suitable replacement for our beloved machine.”
Since 1966, Jaegar has relied on his trusty Xerox Magnafax fax machine. And for over fifty years, it has allowed the Secretary to communicate with the outside world.
“Our Magnafax allowed us to send and receive letters over the phone in a matter of minutes. It’s still amazing, even by today’s standards,” says Jaegar.
The Magnafax was discontinued in the late 1970’s. But because the machine played such a critical role in the Secretary of State’s office, the House Appropriations Committee approved special funding to send Jaeger to Xerox’s headquarters to train with the company’s fax machine technicians, allowing Jaeger to continue to use the Magnafax far beyond its life-cycle.
“It was the special forces of fax technician training,” recounts Jaeger. “For five days, I lived at the Xerox headquarters, tasked with memorizing every nut and bolt on the Magnafax until I could assemble and disassemble one blindfolded. And since 1979, I’ve maintained our office’s Magnafax. We’ve weathered a lot of storms together and it’s been a good ride. My wife often says I know that fax machine better than her and I’d have to agree with her.”
The folks at Xerox were so impressed with Jaeger’s skills, they ran a series of ads featuring the Secretary of State that were published worldwide.
In 1979, Jaeger was awarded the Merit of Maintenance by Xerox. It was the first Xerox award in history to be faxed to a recipient.
Unfortunately, much has changed since Jaeger’s fax-glory days. Jaeger sadly announced recently his Magnafax has broken down and the Secretary of State has been unable to find any replacement parts.
“We’ve recycled parts from other Magnafaxes over the years to keep ours running, but as time as gone on, the ability to find parts has become difficult, nearly impossible. The only other Magnafax in existence is in North Korea, but with tensions mounting recently between our two nations, our hopes of harvesting transplant parts in a diplomatic Mangafax mission have been squashed,” says Jaeger.
As North Dakota faces a budget crisis, Jaeger says he’s been hunting for a new fax machine for a while, but the lack of deals on fax machines this Black Friday is dwindling his hopes.
“I appealed to the folks holding the Legacy Fund purse but was denied. I’ve also ordered my staffers to devote their time searching leaked Black Friday Ads for a deal with no success. So I guess this means our office will have to continue to sit on unsent letters and business filings until our lawmakers realize just how important our fax machine is to our operations,” says Jaeger.
With the loss of its beloved fax machine and no solution in sight, morale is low in the Secretary of State’s office. However, Jaeger says he’s working closely with the North Dakota Heritage Center to secure a permanent home for his beloved Magnafax.
“She may be gone, but she’ll not be forgotten,” said a teary-eyed Jaeger. “The Heritage Center is working to secure a permanent exhibit for our Magnafax so that future generations can look upon her with the same love I have for all these years. It’ll be a fitting memorial for a fitting career. She sure was a good fax.”
The Magnafax will lie in repose in the Great Hall of the Bismarck Capitol. Following a ceremony, it will be transferred to its permanent home in the North Dakota Heritage Center.
The Secretary’s office says in lieu of flowers, they are accepting dot-matrix paper in memory of their Magnafax.
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