The technology of the fax machine was invented and patented in 1843 by a crofter’s son from Watten in Caithness who had left school when he was 12. Alexander Bain was a clockmaker’s apprentice in Wick when he was inspired by a scientific lecture in Thurso on electricity. He went to London to seek opportunity, and there he created the first electric clock and a series of other inventions. His fax machine scanned images and sent them by telegraph to be printed on electrochemically sensitive paper. John Mellis, author of Scotland’s Science, tells the story of a pioneering genius.