If you’ve been vaping for a long time, or even if you just started you may have wondered at some point “Where did these things come from?” The history of vaping is longer and more storied than you might imagine. Many people assume that vaping is a new fad that only popped up in the past few years. While vaping has become more popular over the last few years, it has been in development for a much longer period.
We put together this overview of the history of vaping so you can get a better idea of where vaping is going.
IT ALL STARTED IN THE 60’s
Herbert A. Gilbert was the first person to ever file a patent for an electronic cigarette. He received a patent in 1965. Gilbert realized that any plant product that creates smoke when burned that is naturally not a good thing to breathe into the lungs. He looked at the way an oven worked. When an oven heats up, nothing catches on fire or burns. The bread or whatever is cooking merely heats up. Gilbert realized he could take this concept and apply it to air. If he could just heat up air with the proper ingredients, he could replicate smoking in a way that would result in less harmful effects to those using the product. In the history of vaping, Herbert A. Gilbert is known as the father of the electronic cigarette.
Unfortunately for Gilbert, tobacco companies were not too keen on the idea of developing a product that offered an alternative to cigarettes. Every company that he approached shot down the idea. Gilbert produced a few prototypes, although his invention never made it to market and was considered a commercial failure.
ENTER PHIL RAY
Inventor of the microprocessor and manager of the Apollo Program, Phil Ray was what some might call a genius. He had the unique ability to create new ideas and concepts where others may not be able to think of anything that was not already existing.
A long time smoker, Ray wondered if it might be possible to inhale pure nicotine, rather than inhaling a tobacco leaf. He decided to test out his idea. After scouring for some pure nicotine solution, he placed the liquid on a filter paper, inhaled, and got a similar buzz to that he’d gotten from smoking.
He worked with physician Norman Jacobson to develop a product that would allow the user to inhale pure nicotine. The product was the first electronic cigarette to reach major retailers around the country. It was also the first product to use the term “vaping” in its description.
While it was the first product to reach any commercial platform, it failed rather quickly. Jacobson claims that the devices were faulty because nicotine has a short shelf life and needs to be refrigerated. A Swedish company later bought rights to the product’s technology and turned it into a nasal spray.
HON LIK’S DREAM
Hon Lik was a medical researcher that lived in China. After losing his father to lung cancer as a result of smoking, he was determined to an alternative to traditional smoking. Being a heavy smoker himself, he knew the habit was taking a heavy toll on his health.
After failing to remove his nicotine patch before falling asleep, Hon had a dream that sparked the idea for electronic cigarette. Hon dreamed that he was drowning and that water was filling up his lungs. Frantic and fearing for his life, he realized he was incapable of breathing. At that moment, the water turned vapor that he could breathe easily.
He woke up with a new idea for cigarettes. Rather than inhaling smoke, he realized vapor could be inhaled without harm. He decided to create a device that would allow for this dream to become a reality. He released his electronic cigarette to the public in 2006. His design was the one that would be the catalyst for the vaping explosion that has taken place over the last decade. [Tweet “Many attribute Hon Lik and his company Ruyuan as being the pioneers of modern vaping.”]
THE CARTOMIZER IS BORN
In 2008, Umar and Tariq Sheikh came up with a new idea for vaporizers. Rather than using the traditional atomizer and cartridge style that had been prominent in previous years, the cartomizer allowed users to use only one piece that could hold both their flavor and their atomizer. This improvement made using e-cigarettes much more simple and easier to use.
GARAGE MODDING TAKES OVER
Early vaporizers were not the highest quality pieces of equipment. Many were faulty, did not last a long time, and did not provide the best hits. This faulty technology gave rise to many do it yourself attempts at improving the vaporizer. People began running their own experiments in their garages and tool sheds all over the world.
With the shell of an old flashlight, Adam Daniels created what would become one of the first “mods.” His design included a much bigger tank that allowed for more liquid and higher temperature hits.
After these do it yourself heroes started popping up all over the world, many vaping companies began to take notice. The first mod vaporizers began to appear on the market in 2011. The competition to improve the overall vaping experience started to heat up after that. The introduction of rebuildable tank atomizers and box mods began to give vape users a much more customizable experience.
THE RISE OF VAPING CULTURE
Youtube became a major hub of vapor discussion, tips and tricks, how-tos and reviews. With many users boasting hundreds of thousands of subscribers, the Youtube vaping community is alive and well.
[Tweet “Around 9 million people currently use vaporizers. With this enormous portion of the population vaping, a subculture full of intrigue and variety has formed.”]
Along with popular online destinations, real-world gatherings have formed. Starting in 2010, vapercons, vape expos, and vaper gatherings have begun to become more and more popular. There are almost too many to count at this point. With names like Vape-a-Polooza, VAPEMANIA, and Vaperoo, these events tend to resemble the party aspect of music festivals while also providing those attending with information about vaping. Some gatherings focus more on new products and emerging technology while others embody an all party atmosphere meant to celebrate the joy of vaping.
Vape culture is sure to leave a lasting impression on the history of vaping.
WHAT’S NEXT IN VAPING?
The world of vaping and vaping technology is still relatively young. As vaping continues to gain steam and momentum, we could experience even more shifts in vaping technology and the vaping scene as a whole. With the huge number of vaping festivals currently taking place and the avid do it yourself online community, the vaping world is still only a fraction of what it has the potential to become.
Will we see new products with vaping technology we can’t even imagine yet? Will vaping become even more mainstream than it already is? What does the future of vaping have in store for us? If the history of vaping is any indication, it’s sure to be an interesting ride.
We’d love to hear what you think. Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.