Story of a paper shredder

a couple of years ago

Scissorhredding documents is the need that people want to do it long time ago. Once upon a time, ancient people used stone, wood, papyrus as paper for writing documents. When a mistake was made, or documents has to be destroyed, the stone was cut, the wood was burned or the papyrus was torn up manually.

Since then, shredding has become popular and develop to another forms. The first paper shredder is recorded to inventor Abbot Augustus Low (May 12, 1844 – 1912), lived in the Western shore of Horseshoe Lake, in Piercefield, New York. His patent named “waste paper receptacle” was registered on February 2, 1909 to offer an improved method of disposing of waste paper and received the U.S. patent number 929,960 on August 3, 1909. But Low’s invention was never made.

In 1935, the first paper shredder was appeared in Germany by Adolf Ehinger. Adolf Ehinger made a device that shredded paper from his kitchen tools. The reason he made it very casually, Adolf printed anti-Nazi documents. One day, a neighbor discovered some of it in his garbage can, threatened Ehinger to report him to government. He didn’t want anyone know about these materials anymore. He thought how to do something to eliminate sensitive documents and paper shredder was born


Hand-cranked pasta maker was inspiration that help Ehinger produced a paper shredder. Commonly Germans used hand-cranked devices to make both pasta and traditional spaetzle, it turned sheets of dough into strips. With that in mind, he created a paper shredder by hand-cranked. It had an opening big enough to handle normal paper. After 2nd World War, his machine became popular during the 1950s. Ehinger’s paper shredders later were sold to government agencies and financial institutions with electric motor instead of hand-crank. In 1959, Ehinger’s company the first cross-cut paper shredder that cuts documents lengthwise, after that cuts them again crosswise, resulting in hundreds of tiny pieces, therefore the term “confetti shredder”. Nowaday, Ehinger’s company is known as EBA Krug & Priester GmbH & Co. in Balingen, is one of best manufacturer produces paper shredder.



Paper shredder contributed an important role in history. Fellowes paper shredder was used during Watergate for the Nixon re-election committee. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North used an Intimus 007-S shredder to shred documents during the Iran-Contra scandal. In that time, documents were shredded with strip-cut only, allowing the pieces to be pieced back together by Persian carpet weavers. That was reason why cross cut paper shredders grew in popularity in 1979 after the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun by Iranian militants. Due to the Iran incident, the government announced rules to strict shredding conditions.

Today, paper shredders are popular in offices and home. New laws such as HIPAA and FACTA require that just about everything be shredded for multiple reasons. Shredders now not only apply to tear paper but also used to destroy floppy disks, DVDs/CDs or credit card.

Alton Hanson

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Alton Hanson

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