This week, we share the interesting back story behind paper shredding. According to our amateur research, the first paper shredder is credited to inventor Abbot Augustus Low of Horseshoe, located on the Western shore of Horseshoe Lake, in Piercefield, New York. His patent for a “waste paper receptacle” to offer an improved method of disposing of waste paper was filed on February 2, 1909 and received the U.S. patent number 929,960 on August 31, 1909. Apparently, Low’s invention was never manufactured, however.
Adolf Ehinger’s paper shredder, based on a hand-crank pasta maker, was manufactured in 1935 in Germany. Supposedly he needed to shred his anti-Nazi propaganda to avoid the inquiries of the authorities. Ehinger later marketed his shredders to government agencies and financial institutions converting from hand-crank to electric motor. Ehinger’s company, EBA Maschinenfabrik, manufactured the first cross-cut paper shredders in 1959 and continues to do so to this day as EBA Krug & Priester GmbH & Co. in Balingen.
The U.S. embassy in Iran used strip-cut paper shredders to reduce paper pages to strips before the embassy was taken over in 1979 (though not entirely successfully). After Colonel Oliver North told Congress that he used a Schleicher Intimus 007 S cross-cut model to shred Iran-Contra documents, sales for that company increased nearly 20 percent in 1987.
Until the mid-1980s, it was rare for paper shredders to be used by non-government entities. After the 1984 Supreme Court decision in California v. Greenwood, in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside of a home, paper shredders became more popular among US citizens with privacy concerns. Anti-burning laws, concern over landfills, industrial espionage, and identity theft concerns created greater demand for paper shredding.
These days, for reputation management and to fulfill fiduciary responsibilities, many companies enjoy the security and convenience of on-site shredding. For more information on secured document destruction please visit www.hvshred.com