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January 11, 2016

A Complete History of Confidential Document Shredding, Part I

Since the first species of mankind walked this blue planet, people have yearned to express themselves. This can be seen in simple cave drawings and carvings on rocks, or the painting of pottery. Man developed written languages through symbols and told stories through images. As you can probably imagine, most of the objects that people chose to paint on could not be moved. The items that could be moved were quite awkward and heavy. All of this changed in ancient Egypt in 4000 B.C. with the discovery of papyrus as a writing vessel.

At some point during this time, long before Indianapolis came into existence, man also made mistakes. Sensitive information was recorded on these sheets of papyrus, information that might cost lives if it were to be discovered. The Simple Solution? Rip the papyrus to shreds. Though it seems like such a simple act, this was the humble beginnings of the paper shredding industry.

The First Paper Shredding Machine

Abbott Augustus Low was born to a powerful and rich family in New York City. Though he would go on to be one of the greatest inventors in American history, second only in patent holdings to Thomas Edison, he did not grow up expressing the ideal work ethic. He refused college and did not succeed while working for his father’s business. He decided to relocate to a secluded area of the Adirondack Mountains.

He established the town of Horseshoe, New York after purchasing 40,000 acres. A railroad station was one of his first buildings, as well as a post office, of which he was the postmaster. He opened several businesses and built two dams, one of which ultimately flooded the town.

Abbot Low is credited mostly for his grand inventions. Many, such as his paper shredding machine, were well before their time. Though he patented his paper shredder, he did not create more than his initial prototype. For this reason, he is often not credited with the invention of the first machine.

The First Recognized Invention

The inventor who is credited with the invention of the first paper shredding machine is German-born Adolf Ehinger. Unlike the American inventor, Ehinger was a very hard working man. He ran a successful business repairing tools. When the lights were low and nobody was looking, he also printed anti-Nazi propaganda. As you can imagine, this was a very risky side business.

It is said that a neighbor noticed his printings in a garbage can outside his residence and threatened to report the man for treason. It was in this moment that Adolf Ehinger knew that he needed to create a machine that would render confidential papers unreadable. Thus, the modern paper shredder was born.

The inspiration for his machine came straight from the kitchen. He saw how the pasta shredder would make strips out of sheets of pasta, and built his first prototype based on this model. He later added an electric motor and patented the design.

These two men were only the beginning of what would become the paper shredding industry. If your Indianapolis business has old files, and even hard drives that you would like destroyed, contact us today for a free estimate.

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