A Brief History of Paper Shredding

A Brief History of Paper Shredding

The history of paper shredding is rather tarnished, but it remains one of the most secure ways to protect one’s identity.

It’s common business and personal practice to routinely destroy documents that contain sensitive information, but did you know paper shredding in general has a rather unique and interesting history?

The general consensus is that the first paper shredder was originated by a man named Adolf Ehinger, a German toolmaker whose idea to shred paper came from a pasta maker. While Ehringer is listed as the first person to engineer a working paper shredder, it was Abbot Augustus Low that filed a patent for what he called a “waste-paper receptacle” years before Ehringer was inspired that fateful day in his kitchen.

Low, an entrepreneur, engineer, and inventor from Brooklyn never saw his invention commercially manufactured, but nevertheless, it received the U.S. patent number 929,960 on August 31, 1909.

Of course, paper shredders weren’t as recognized in the public eye until some rather unfortunate circumstances much later in the 20th century; first with the Watergate scandal, then the Iran-Contra affair, and later, Enron.

Paper shredders weren’t exactly positively publicized in either of these events, but only because of their illicit use.

We can thank the 1980’s for the commercial use of paper shredders, as offices all over found these devices useful to destroy sensitive information during a paper-reliant era. What’s more, it was The U.S. Supreme Court that ruled in 1987 that your garbage, once put out on the curb, is considered public property. If you jump a few years ahead into the 1990s, statistics show that both corporate espionage and identity theft had skyrocketed.  Corporations were in need of ways to protect themselves, their trade secrets, and of course, their employee information.

Once again, paper shredders were getting a rather unfair reputation.

It was in 2002 that the National Association for Information Destruction, or NAID, distributed a press release painting paper shredding in a much more positive light after the Enron scandal.

“NAID wants to remind the media, as well as the citizens of the United States, that the overwhelming majority of document destruction that takes place on a daily basis is done so quite appropriately and for the cause of good.”

As the leading experts in identity protection, we couldn’t agree more. Legal Shred helps companies safely, securely, and legally destroy old documents for the best in identity protection.

Privacy laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) render businesses responsible for protecting customer/consumer information. Not only is it up to businesses to legally comply with specific laws, it’s good business practice to routinely destroy old documents that have long outlived their retention periods.

Also, by shredding paper and recycling it, you open up numerous environmentally healthy alternatives rather than simply throwing it in the dumpster.  It protects consumers and businesses alike, and when you work with us at Legal Shred, the benefits are unmatched.

A Brief History of Paper Shredding

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