Seventy-Fifth (75th) Anniversary of the Paper Shredder – History of Shredding

Intimus 0077SL Paper ShredderPaper shredders haven’t been around forever. In fact, paper shredders really haven’t been around nearly as long as you may have thought. How long do you think they have been around? Perhaps 100-200 years? The correct answer is 75 years. This is the interesting history of shredding.

In relation to history, paper itself hasn’t been around long. The ancient Egyptians wrote on papyrus. If the papyrus was no longer needed, it was torn up. While this can be done with paper, tearing up a document may not be as secure as you think.

The paper shredder began in 1935 with Adolf Ehinger. He was living in Germany at the time and printed anti-Nazi material. As history tells, the Nazis were relentless and brutal when dealing with opposition. After being confronted by Nazis about some material in his garbage can, he decided he needed to come up with a better solution for disposing of this material.

His inspiration for creating a paper-destructing device was a hand-cranked pasta maker. Using this as a template, he created a hand-cranked paper-shredding device that was housed in a wood frame. The opening of this shredder was big enough to handle paper. He later created a version powered by an electric motor. At the time, people thought his invention was useless. Adolf went on to make shredders for governments and embassies.

With the onset of the cold war, Adolf Ehinger’s invention grew in popularity. In 1959 Adolf Ehinger’s company (EBA Maschinenfabrik) created the first cross cut paper shredder. A cross cut shredder cuts paper in multiple directions for added security, versus a strip cut shredder that only cuts the paper in one direction. In 1998 Krug & Priester purchased the company, whose paper shredder divisions are now known as EBA and IDEAL. Krug and Priester continues to make shredders under the names EBA, IDEAL and Destroyit.

The idea of the paper shredder, however, predates Adolf Ehinger. In 1908 A.A. Low patented the idea of the paper shredder. From New York City, his patent was titled “Waste Paper Receptacle.” This patent included the idea of a feeder and blades that could be run on a motor or hand crank. It was to be used in banks, offices and other businesses. After passing away in 1912, his ideas and inventions were auctioned off to the highest bidder and his idea for the paper shredder was forgotten.

Paper shredders are now more popular than ever and have made a name in history with such scandals as Watergate and corruption as found in Enron. Colonel Oliver North made the Schleicher Intimus 007 S one of the most popular paper shredders in history after he used it to shred documents during the Iran-Contra scandal. After Colonel Oliver North divulged the model of the shredder he used, sales for Schleicher Intimus rose 20%.

Cross cut paper shredders grew in use after the 1979 takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran. Documents in the embassy were only strip cut, allowing Persian carpet weavers to piece the strips back together. After this incident, the U.S. government increased security requirements for paper shredders.

Federal laws are now in place that requires certain documents to be shredded or properly disposed of. Some of these laws include HIPAA and FACTA. You will find ABC Office’s entire selection of paper shredders here. Protect your business and protect your customer’s information with a paper shredder today.

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