It seems fitting that the first article we write on this site should answer the fundamental question:
What is a paper shredder?
Wikipedia defines a paper shredder as “a mechanical device used to cut paper into chad [fragments], typically either strips or fine particles.”
Quite simply, a paper shredder does exactly what the name suggests – it shreds paper!!
Why use a paper shredder?
There are a number of reasons why you may want to use or even purchase a paper shredder. The most popular reason for using a paper shredder these days is linked to the rapid growth of consumer identity theft. Sadly, it is not uncommon for criminals to rifle through our trash, looking for sensitive information that they can use to steal our identities. A paper shredder can often be the best way to dispose of your documents safely, and prevent identity theft.
Who invented the paper shredder?
The invention of the first paper shredder is credited to Abbot Augustus Law of Horseshoe, New York in the United States of America. His patent for a ‘Waste-paper receptacle’, filed in 1909, is widely considered to be the first known invention of a paper shredder:
My invention relates to the provision of improved means for disposing of waste paper and is designed more particularly for use in offices and other places where not only the collection and storage of waste paper is desirable, but also its cancellation or mutilation in such manner as to render it unavailable or unintelligible for re-use or for information.
However, Low’s invention was never manufactured.
Who manufactured the first paper shredder?
It wasn’t until around 1935 (more than 25 years after Low’s patent) that Adolf Ehinger from Germany, manufactured the first known paper shredder – inspired by a pasta maker!
Legend has it that, secretly at night, Ehinger used to print anti-Nazi propaganda. When a nosy neighbour stumbled across this material in Ehinger’s trash and threatened to report him to the authorities, he decided to find a way of destroying this material safely. The use of a pasta maker is perhaps not as unusual as it sounds, given that these were commonly used in Germany for making the popular dish, Spätzle.
The paper shredder proved to be a lucrative invention for Ehinger as his company, EBA Maschinenfabrik, went on to manufacture the first cross-cut paper shredders in 1959. The company continues to manufacture paper shredders to this day, as a brand under Krug & Priester GmbH & Co. KG.
So there you have it! Hopefully it’s now clear, what a paper shredder is. In the next article, we will go into more detail about the different types of paper shredder. If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it on social platforms or write a comment below.