In its crudest form, the art of reconstructing shredded documents has been around for as long as shredders have. After the takeover of the United States Embassy in Tehran in 1979, Iranian captors laid pieces of documents on the floor, numbered each one and enlisted local carpet weavers to reconstruct them by hand, said Malcolm Byrne of the National Security Archive at George Washington University. "For a culture that's been tying 400 knots per inch for centuries, it wasn't that much of a challenge," he said. The reassembled documents were sold on the streets of Tehran for years. [...]
ChurchStreet's software analyzes the graphical patterns that go to the edge of each piece. First, workers paste the random shreds onto standard sheets of paper, which takes three to seven minutes per page. The pages are scanned, and software analyzes the shreds for possible matches. [...] ChurchStreet, whose clients are mainly law agencies and private law firms, charges roughly $2,000 to reconstruct a cubic foot of strip-shreds. A cubic foot of shreds is generally less than 100 pages. Mr. Ford said ChurchStreet would soon offer a service to reconstruct cross-shredded documents - that is, those cut in two directions - for $8,000 to $10,000 per cubic foot.
Picking Up the Pieces
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