Samuel O'Reilly invented the electric tattooing machine in 1891. O'Reilly improved upon an earlier tattoo machine invented by Thomas Edison that did not succeed commercially. Tattoo machines work by using a hollow needle filled with permanent ink. An electric motor pushes the needle in and out of the skin at a rate of up to 3,000 punctures per minute. The tattoo needle inserts a small drop of ink about 1/8 of an inch below the surface of the skin each time.
History : A Source Book
Online extracts from the book.
A Brief History of Tattoos
The word tattoo comes from the Tahitian "tatu" which means "to mark something."
About guide to Tattos and Body Piercing - get great information on all forms of body art from Guide Karen Hudson.