Paper Shredding Facts: The Fascinating History of the Paper Shredder

August 20, 2017

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American Security Shredding maintains a firm and confident stance that shredding results with industrial-grade machines and expert advice are far superior to using an office shredder. We have even put together a fact sheet about office shredders, and why you should seriously consider using a more industrial solution. With that said, have you ever wondered how the idea of a paper shredding machines ever came to be? It turns out that this machine that many people take for granted has a very deep and political history.

It really started in 1909 when an inventor named Abbot Augustus Lowe came up with the paper concept for a machine that destroys paper pages. Unfortunately for Mr. Lowe his invention never came to be during his lifetime. However in 1935, a German engineer also had the same idea and built the first machine. The intent here was to destroy anti-Nazi propaganda before it was discovered by the authorities.

When the first machine came to market many people had a difficult time understanding the point of owning such a machine. However when the Cold War came around the machine rapidly became a common appliance in offices around the world. The rise in international espionage and information mining by various countries created a lot of fear and uncertainty regarding who was accessing what information. It became commonplace to see these machines inside embassies and diplomatic offices during this time.

While the early document shredder was considered a game changing factor during periods such as the Cold War, eventually there was a push to innovate the machine further. This point of development is commonly associated with the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979. Following many tense political events several Iranian revolutionaries took control of the US embassy in Tehran. Staff was taken as hostages and protestors seized piles of sensitive documents and information. However they didn’t just target filing cabinets and desks for these documents, but also waste paper bins and document shredder bins. Since machines at the time were only capable of cutting in one direction, it was fairly easy to reconstruct documents if one was so inclined. This is commonly thought to be one of the major events to have triggered the invention of cross-cutting shredders. These are the types of machines many industrial users, such as American Security Shredding, use today.

Document destruction has become commonplace in many offices, especially those where confidentiality is key. The National Association for Information Destruction (NAID) came to be in 1994 and has since been designated as the recognized professional association for the information destruction industry.

American Security Shredding, as a member of NAID, is proud to be a part of the next chapter of document destruction. Through collaboration with our partners, as well as stringent practices and monitoring we continue to operate in the most secure fashion, ensuring confidential information stays confidential. To learn more about how we keep information secure, contact us today!

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