tattoo machine history - the orginal and development

A tattoo is a mark on the body fixed by a specialist whereby a pigment is inserted under the skin. Tattoos started existing in 5000BC. Since then, people from different cultures have had different tattoos with different meanings. According to Charles Darwin, no nation globally did not practice tattooing. Apart from tattooing, different cultures practiced some permanent decorations on the body. For instance, in South America, people tattooed their bodies with permanent scars with different patterns. They rubbed the scars with various plants to ensure they did not bleed.

tattoo on mummiesIn Ancient Egypt, tattoos are seen on mummies. In early Roman times and Greek, barbarians were associated with tattoos. Persians taught the Greek people how to tattoo. The Greek people used tattoos as a mark on the bodies of enslaved people and criminals. This ensured that the enslaved people and criminals were easily recognized if they attempted to run away. Then after that the Romans learned the tattooing trick from the Greeks.

Some tribes in India had tattoo specialists that mostly comprised women. Different tattoo design shows different meanings in cultures. Like language from cultures globally, tattoos communicate a lot about a culture and its beliefs.

Modern tattoos have different personal meanings. Some are a show of love, or memories of pain that one has experienced in life. With advancement, different types of tattoos have emerged today.


Tattoo Machine Development

Tattoo machines emerged back in the 1800s. Thomas Edison, famously known as the ‘father of the modern electric tattoo machine,’ was the first person to invent electric tattoo machines. The first electric tattoo machine was invented in 1876 whereby the intention was the creation of stencils that could be used on fliers. Later on, Samuel O’Riley redefined Edison’s machine in 1891. The electric machine is the most commonly used up to date.

Currently, the tattoo machines available have developed a long way in the past. The first machine to be developed was very heavy to use. Thus a tattoo artist could easily get tired. After five years, Charles Wagner improved the machine and created a model with two coils placed side by side.

A modern tattoo emerged in the 1920s, which is still in use to date, that has a fourteen-frame feature. Other machine was developed but never succeeded. However, it set standards for a better and improved design.

old tattoo machine

The first tattoo machine was designed of iron, steel, and brass. Today, most machines are made of aluminum, which is lighter and more durable. The past tattoo machines had rotary systems, while the current machines used electromagnets for better functioning. Currently, LACEnano is the newest and lightest tattoo machine in the world. It has a better positioning and is thus easy to hold while working on a client. It can bring out any tattoo style of choice easily. Tattoo machines have evolved. The first machine inspired the modern machines, which were later modernized and improved.

Rotary Tattoo Machine and Coil Tattoo Machine

As a tattoo artist, choosing a tattoo machine is crucial. You must research various tattoo machines and how they function. The choice of a machine as an artist will determine your speed, level of fatigue, and other issues.

The two kinds of machines are almost similar, only that they differ in some areas. The main difference between coil and rotary tattoo machines is the style of needle movement. Coil machines depend on an electromagnet to drive the armature bar. When the current flows through the machine, the needles are released and retracted. In short, the coil machine’s movement relates to the movement of a hammer.

A rotary tattoo machine is gentle when working. It has a small motor encased inside it that enables the needles to move up and down. Tattoo artists prefer the rotary machine since it is gentler for the client and produces less noise. You can use a rotary machine to decrease hand fatigue, as it is easy to hold.

The weight of a coil tattoo machine is quite higher than a rotary machine. The coil machine possesses two coils and iron rods. Artists who work daily for longer hours may experience fatigue from using the coil machine. Rotary machines carry out their operations on a motor, thus making them lighter.

Have you ever walked into a tattoo parlor and heard too much noise? That must have been a coil tattoo machine. The machine produces a clicking sound whenever the machine releases and retracts the needles. Most clients get nervous when they hear the sound. It makes the process seem very painful. Rotary tattoo machines are relatively quiet, and many clients may prefer them.

The rotary machine is very easy to use and does not damage a client’s skin. Therefore, the machine cannot use bigger needles. The rotary machine is low maintenance and has a faster way of movement. Coil machines can be used more and require an artist with high skills.

Tattoo artists have different opinions on machines. The coil machines cannot shade and draw lines. It is best to have the two machines or choose rotary machine as an artist since it can draw and shade well. The only thing you must do as an artist is to change the needles when shading. The main disadvantage of using rotary is that they are not very good at customized tattoos.


The evolution of tattoos began back with different cultures having different meanings. The art of tattoos was mostly passed from culture to culture. Today most people have embraced having tattoos that have different meanings. For instance, you may write the name of a loved one, a favorite quote, or draw the face of someone you cared about and passed on. The machine development happened after several upgrades. The type of machine used by an artist matters a lot.

As an artist, make the best decision to make your clients happy by delivering the best job. Coil and rotary machines have great differences in their features and work mode. Most artists prefer rotary tattoo machines for their simplicity and durability. It is easier to clean the coil machines since they can be taken apart. On the other hand, rotary machines need to be lubricated often for the best performance.