Follow Your Passion

Thomas Edison did--and he left his mark on a variety of industries.

Thomas Edison is often referred to as the father of theelectrical industry, the music industry and the motion pictureindustry. But did you know that he could also lay rightful claim tobeing the father of the tattoo industry?

In 1876, Edison patented a device he called the electric pen.Its sharp end poked small holes into a stencil sheet as the userwrote out his or her text on the page. This stencil could then beused as a template through which ink was pushed to make multiplecopies of the same document. Edison marketed the innovation tolawyers, insurance firms and anybody else whose business consistedof duplicating numerous documents. Edison's electric pen--andthe accompanying duplication equipment--turned out to be theforerunner of those old mimeograph machines (remember that smell?)and, subsequently, our modern-day duplication industry.

In 1891, the tattoo pen was born when an inventor named SamuelO'Reilly took Edison's electric pen and patented a systemthat delivered ink directly to the end of the needle rather thanhaving the ink applied later.

Excerpted from At Work With Thomas Edison: 10 Business LessonsFrom America's Greatest Innovator

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