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The “Electric Pen”

By Thomas Edison

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New York tattoo artist Samuel F. O'Reilly invented the electric tattoo machine in 1891. He had been using the hand method of tattooing before, but it was tediously slow. The demand for more elaborate tattoos led O'Reilly to seek a faster method.
O'Reilly found a device called the "Electric Pen". This device, invented by Thomas A. Edison in 1876 was part of a document duplication system used by businesses. The handheld Electric Pen used a high-speed reciprocating motor to drive a single needle. It did not use any ink, but merely perforated holes in a master form. The master form then became a stencil, and ink rolled onto its surface passed through the holes to make copies onto blank sheets placed underneath the stencil.
O'Reilly took this invention, added multiple needles and an ink reservoir, and earned a U.S. patent in

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