Though vaping has only become popular in the recent years the history of e-cigarettes can be traced all the way back to the 1960’s. Herbert A. Gilbert patented his smokeless non-tobacco cigarette which involved replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air in 1963, this vaping device produced flavored steam without nicotine. It wasn’t until 1965 that Gilbert was granted his patent but it seemed his invention was just too ahead of the time to receive much attention and was never commercialized especially considering the popularity of smoking and lack of scientific evidence of it’s harmful effects.
Years later in 2003 another man, Hon Lik, registered for a different patent and is credited with the invention of the modern e-cigarette. After Lik’s father passed away from lung cancer in 2001 he quit smoking cigarettes and developed a vaporizer which operated using a “high frequency, piezoelectric ultrasound-emitting element to vaporize a pressurized jet of liquid containing nicotine” which created a smoke-like vapor. After the invention Like said that using resistance heating obtained a better result but faced difficulty scaling down the device to a manageable size.
In 2004 the e-cigarette was introduced to the Chinese domestic market eventually making their way to the United States over the internet. In 2006 and 2007 the e-cigarette finally entered the European and US markets after which Lik registered an international patent in November 2007, however many US and Chinese manufacturers copied his designs illegally thus leaving Lik without much financial compensation for his invention.
Unlike Lik’s initial design for the modern vaping device most devices today use a battery-powered heating element rather than the earlier ultrasonic technology, some users were dissatisfied with the performance thus the devices continued to evolve. In 2007 Umer and Tariq Sheikh invented the cartomizer which integrated the heating coil into the liquid chamber and launched their device in the UK in 2008. This design has now been widely adopted by most “cigalike” brands.
It was at this point that users began to modify their own devices. The first mod to accommodate a longer lasting battery by replacing the casing was developed by Ted and Matt Rogers in 2008. Many enthusiasts began building their own mods to improve functionality or alter the aesthetics of their device. The demand for customizable devices prompted many manufacturers to produce devise with interchangeable components which can be selected by the user.
In 2009 the clearomizer was invented which allowed the user to monitor the liquid level of the device. Soon after the cleaomizer hit the market, replaceable atomizer coils and variable voltage batteries were introduced. International tobacco companies dismissed vaping as a fad and now it has become a booming business worth billions today. Looks like Herbert knew something nobody else did all the way back in 1963.