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The Paper Shredder: How it All Started

Paper shredding machines don’t really receive special attention; after all, they aren’t exactly an exciting conversation piece. With that said, you may not be aware of the history of document shredding and the story behind the paper shredding machine. Interestingly enough, there were some pretty significant socio-political events that occurred which all had an influence on the evolution of this handy and important little machine!

The first known patent that was filed for a document shredding device took place in 1909 by Abbot Augustus Low. Even though the patent was filed, the device was never manufactured during Low’s lifetime.

In 1935 the first known paper shredder was designed and made by Adolf Ehinger. Apparently it operated in the same way as a hand-cranked pasta maker, where users would turn a crank while documents were fed through and shred up. Ehinger’s goal behind making the machine was to destroy his anti-Nazi propaganda in an effort to avoid getting questioned by authority figures.

After the Second World War, Ehinger went after governments and financial institutions with the paper shredder and with time replaced the hand crank machine with an electric motor. The events of the Cold War brought document shredders into the spotlight, and with the ongoing threat of espionage present, they suddenly became extremely popular.  Government entities especially, primarily used paper shredders until the mid-80’s where other industries saw the value in these as well.

One event that prompted a key change in document shredding was the Iran hostage crisis of 1979. After having used standard cutting paper shredders to shred confidential records, it was learned by Iranian hostages that these strips could be reassembled to obtain the information which was meant to be destroyed. These discoveries of course, lead to the invention of cross-cutting shredders, which are still in use today.

Today, privacy issues brought in by the era of technology have continued the story of the paper shredder. With laws such as FACTA and HIPAA being implemented to fight identity theft, and the FTC suggesting consumers shred financial documents prior to disposal,  it is safe to say that document shredders are not likely going anywhere anytime soon.


If you are seeking a qualified and experienced shredding company for your office space, or just shredding services to purge your Boston office, contact the team of experts at A1 DATASHRED. We can put together a plan and service that is in line with your specific budgetary requirements.  As a proud AAA NAID Certified member you can be sure that documents are being destroyed in accordance with any relevant laws and required procedures.


Get in touch with our professionals today to arrange a shredding schedule that works for you!

Call 1-888-95SHRED

November 1, 2018