Ever wonder when the first tattoo machine was officially patented? Well on December 8, 1891, a gentlemen by the name of Samuel F. O’Reilley, of New York, NY, received US Patent Number 464,801 for the first tattoo machine.
The invention he created was actually a modified version a machine Thomas Edisons created as a “Improvement in Autographic Printing”. The patent was awarded to Edison for that machine in 1876 and he received US Patent Number 180,857 for it. O’Reilly saw how Edison’s method of ink transfer using a stencil and an ink pen could be adapted for use in tattooing so he made further improvements to it by making it lighter, easier to use, safer and less painful.
Modern tattoo machines allow the artist to control the speed of the needle, its depth, and pressure. The most recent invention, US Patent Number 7,340,980, was issued on March 11, 2008 and is “light and compact, …improves the diffusion of the coloring liquid on the skin, simplifies the tasks of the operator, reduces the pain caused by the piercing action and increases safety [by]….avoiding the formation of cheloids caused by poor healing.”