Secure paper shredding services have a much more extensive history than many people imagine. While the mechanised shredders of today might be a thorough modern invention, the need to effectively destroy confidential papers has been around for decades. Whether it’s to protect corporate data or the interests of individuals, this brief history of secure paper shredding services shows just how important this objective has always been.
- 1909. Although the details are sketchy, the first patent that is thought to have been issued for a shredder was handed out in 1909 to Abbot Augustus Low of Horseshoe in Piercefield, New York. We don’t know that much about his invention other than that it was a “waste paper receptacle.”
- 1935. The first definitive document shredding took place. The first shredder we know more about was actually a hand operated pasta maker. In later years Ehinger made modifications to his original shredding idea, including the key addition of a motorised crank, which had the potential to make the shredding process much more efficient.
- 1959. This was the year that the first cross-cut paper shredders were manufactured, ensuring that paper shredding could be even more secure. The company EBA Maschinenfabrik was the first to make these shredders - this was actually Adolf Ehinger’s company, which still makes shredders to this day under the name EBA Krug and Priester.
- 1970s. The paper shredder played a role in one of the most famous scandals of all time when G. Gordon Liddy made use of his paper shredder to try and get rid of evidence relating to the 1972 break in at the National Democratic-Party headquarters - the Watergate Scandal.
- 1979. Iranian militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran and proved the vulnerability of document shredding techniques at the time. Highly classified documents were pieced back together one shred at a time by Iranian carpet weavers. This was the moment that the shredding industry started looking for ways to increase the security impact of shredders so that documents couldn’t be retrieved once they had been disposed of.
- 2001. Shredding proved to be a big part of the process of the Enron scandal in 2001. Apparently ‘tons of paper’ was shredded internally at Enron in the wake of the scandal breaking, in order to try and protect the business and those within it that carried the blame.
- 2022. We have entered a new era of secure shredding where machines can provide more comprehensive and reliable document destruction than ever before.
Secure paper shredding has had a part to play in many different events in history over the years. It is a protective mechanisms that individuals and organisations can use to help ensure that data and information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Today, the advanced nature of shredding techniques makes shredding the most reliable form of document destruction that there is - the ultimate secure option for data in physical form.