The paper shredder, a mechanical device used to cut paper into thin strips or small particles, was first invented in 1909 by Abbot A. Low of Piercefield in upstate New York, to offer an improved method of disposing of waste paper. Since then the purpose of paper shredding has taken on far more important duties. Adolph Ehinger's manual paper shredder was based on a hand crank pasta maker and manufactured in Germany in 1935. Herr Ehinger was perhaps the first to use paper shredding as a security means, shredding anti-Nazi propaganda to avoid prying eyes of the Third Reich. His machines were later marketed to government agencies and financial institutions and the hand cranks converted to electric motors. His company manufactured the first 'cross-cut' paper shredder in 1959.
The two main types of paper shredders are 'strip cut' and 'cross cut', but they also are manufactured as 'particle cut', 'disintegrators', 'cardboard', 'hammermills', 'piece and tear' and 'grinders' to fulfill a myriad of tasks. The government offices of most nations now use paper shredders of all types in offices worldwide as a method of providing security, privacy and waste management. The Supreme Court of the United States of America, in a 1984 decision, held that the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution offers no protection from the search and seizure of garbage left outside of a home or business. Following that decision the popularity of paper shredders for both home use and in businesses flourished. Also instrumental in the advancement of paper shredders has been anti-burning laws, concern of overuse of landfills, industrial espionage and identity theft.
The United States Federal Trade Commission estimates that over nine (9) million cases of identity theft take place annually in the US alone. It is strongly recommended that all individuals take advantage of paper shredders as a means to protect themselves against identity theft. All financial records should be shredded prior to disposal. Many businesses, particularly health care organisations, in an effort to protect the privacy of patients, have begun utilising paper shredders to destroy confidential material.
Information privacy acts in many countries are a driving force in shredder sales as businesses strive to comply and avoid legal problems. The need to shred paper has grown an industry of its own, as large trucks now contain industrial sized paper shredders. The truck is divided into two areas, one to accomplish the shredding and one to hold the shredded material. Such trucks are capable of shredding up to 3600 kg of paper an hour. This method of paper disposal is a proven method of increasing security and privacy at home and in the workplace.