Since the 1800s, the tattoo machine has had a long and complicated history. It all started with an American inventor named Thomas Edison and his rotary typewriter. He created it in 1876 with the aim of creating stencils for use on flyers.

Over the course of fifteen years, tattooist Samuel O’Reilly changed Edison’s design to construct an electric tattoo machine, which he patented in 1891. His computer is still in use today as one of the most common designs.

The Tattoo Machine’s Evolution

The designs of today’s tattoo machines have come a long way from those of the past. The first machine was based on Edison’s rotary-operated stencil pen, which was innovative but also heavy and inconvenient to use. After the addition of two electromagnetic coils, springs, and contact bars, what started as an electric motor secured on top of a tube with a steel needle became a more powerful model. Charles Wagner developed this concept five years later, creating a model of twin coils set side by side.

Percy Waters designed and produced fourteen frame styles for the first modern tattoo machine in the 1920s, which are still in use today. Carol Nightingale introduced an adjustable tattoo system in 1979, which was a significant advancement. Although this computer was never a commercial success, it set the standard for what could be done in terms of design. Most modern tattoo machines (for example, the Dragonfly and Stingray tattoo machines) can be adjusted for speed, depth, and force of application. In 2009, the Bishop Rotary tattoo machine was introduced, and tattoo artists all over the world praised it for its lightweight nature, which allowed them to use it for longer periods of time without experiencing wrist pain.

Tattoo Machines in the Past and Present

The first tattoo machines were made of iron, steel, and brass, but later versions are frequently made of aluminum, which is preferred for its lightweight and durability. The first machines used rotary systems, although the more recent prototypes use electromagnets. Today’s tattoo machines have unique and groundbreaking features, such as the Cheyenne Hawk, which uses a revolutionary cartridge needle device that allows you to adjust the needle with a flick of the wrist. Then there’s the LACEnano, which is now the world’s lightest tattoo machine, weighing just 45g. This modern tattoo machine is completely autoclavable (including the motor) and has an ergonomic grip. It has a fully adjustable hit and give and is ideal for all tattooing types.

Samuel O’Reilly, a tattoo artist, invented and patented the first electric tattoo machine in 1891. In 1876, Thomas A. Edison invented a device called the “Electric Pen,” which he discovered. The Electric Pen, which used a high-speed reciprocating motor to move a single needle, was part of a document copying device used by companies.

Instead of using ink, the Electric Pen perforated holes in a master form, which then became a stencil. Ink rolled onto the stencil’s surface and passed through the gaps, allowing copies to be made on blank sheets underneath the stencil.

O’Reilly improved it by adding several needles and an ink tank, and he was granted a patent in the United States. This ground-breaking device was a game-changer in the tattoo industry, ushering in a whole new era of development.

Percy Waters patented a new design in 1929 that is very similar to the current tattoo machine. Two electromagnetic coils set parallel to the frame, a spark shield, and an on/off switch were all part of his machine.

Waters was a prolific tattoo artist in Detroit, Michigan, for nearly thirty years, as well as the owner of a tattoo supply business. During that time, he tattooed several well-known tattoo collectors and created classic flash sets.