Back in 1994, if you had asked us to predict which part of our publishing operation would not be around in the year 2011, we might have guessed our new “women in business” issue. We launched that first special issue on January 19, 1994, with then-Governor Christine Whitman and the newly named president of Educational Testing Service, Nancy Cole, featured on the cover.

Women, it seemed, were rising so quickly in all facets of society that we guessed it would only be a matter of years before they would move beyond the idea of anything being “special” about their roles.

But the issue has proved to be a keeper, and this year’s edition seems as relevant as the first one 17 years ago. Euna Kwon Brossman’s story of two women who hold key positions raising money in challenging economic times begins on page 11.

Back in 1994 our relatively new fax machine was indispensable (as in how could we have ever done business without this!). If you had asked us then if it would still be around in 2011, we would have said for sure — and probably in vivid color.

Well our fax machine is still around, and we still use it every day, but not nearly as much as we did 5 or 10 years ago. E-mail, E-mail attachments, and the wonders of Adobe Acrobat have all conspired to put the fax machine (and even the copy machine!) on the list of office endangered species.

This year the decline of the fax machine is evidenced in our database updating for the publication of our annual U.S. 1 Business Directory. Some history: Unlike other directories, and unlike the robo fact-gatherers online, we still reach out to our directory base every week (through news reporting and reports filed by our deliverers) and also once a year, by writing every company in our database to see if it is still there.

Two years ago we mailed out 900 letters and sent out nearly 5,000 faxes. But even then we began to see the trend — company after company that had either given up their fax number or were just not keeping their fax machines turned on.

Last year we mailed out 505, faxed 4,900, and — for the first time — E-mailed 520 fact-checking coupons.

Based on the results of that trial, this year we are sending faxes out to companies that have only a fax number in our database (1,850). Some 3,300 companies with E-mail addresses are receiving E-mails instead of faxes. (Another 500 companies with no fax and no E-mail address in our records are getting coupons snail mailed.)

Like all the communications forms that preceded it, E-mail won’t be perfect. The E-mail address we have for your company might be one that you gave out a half-dozen years ago, when the tech-savvy office administrator used his or her E-mail for company business. We will keep records of the failed E-mail addresses and follow up by phone or by snail mail.

If you want to be proactive, you can send us your information. Visit www.princetoninfo.com, and click on the box on the lower left side that says list your company. Fill out as much information as is applicable, submit, and we will do the rest. Using a keyboard, a piece of equipment that surely will be around forever.

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