History of Tattooing

History of Tattooing

History of Tattooing (Cont.)

History of Tattooing (Cont.)1769 After an expedition to Tahiti and New Zealand, British explorer Capt. James Cook brings back tales of the natives’ elaborate body art. He also popularizes the vocabulary we still use today: The Polynesian word tatau (meaning “to strike”) gives rise to the Western term “tattoo.”

1891 Samuel O’Reilly invents the electric tattoo machine, which is inspired by Thomas Edison’s autographic printing pen. Modern tattoo machines are still largely based on O’Reilly’s design.

1961 New York City bans tattooing, fearing a potential hepatitis B epidemic. The New York City Council lifts the ban in 1997. Three months later, the first annual New York Tattoo Convention is held in the city.

2006 Scientists at Harvard University develop an erasable tattoo ink. Though it won’t wash off in the shower, the ink’s structure makes it easier for lasers to remove tattoos. Erasable tattoo ink gains popularity among those who stencil their sweetheart’s name on their bicep, as the design is less regrettable after a breakup.

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