Who knew something as simple as paper shredding could have such a fascinating history? From wartime intelligence officers destroying sensitive documents to business professionals pre-emptively thwarting the efforts of identity thieves to creative types looking for their next piece of art—the paper shredder is an iconic tool that has been integral to countless tales throughout time. As we explore its past and current use, you may find yourself astonished at how much impact this small machine has had.
The First Paper Shredder
The first idea of the paper shredder originated with Abbot Agustus Low when he set out to design a machine for efficient document destruction. He filed a patent for a paper shredding machine in February 1909. However, Low died soon afterward before his invention was ever manufactured.
It wasn’t until thirty years later that document destruction was mentioned again. In 1935, Adolf Ehinger was a German man dedicated to creating and spreading anti-Nazi leaflets and propaganda. To avoid capture, he needed a quick and efficient way to destroy his materials. Taking inspiration from a pasta maker, Ehinger succeeded in creating the first paper shredder.
After patenting the invention in 1936, his invention grew in popularity as governments and banks saw the value of being able to effectively destroy paper documents.
New Advances in Paper Shredding
As with other technology, there was room for the paper shredder to evolve. One of the first of these changes was cutting paper in both horizontal and vertical directions, ensuring that paper was more difficult to reassemble. Other advances worked to make the machine smaller and move at higher speeds. Another important step was making the shredder more affordable and accessible so that everyone could have access to one.