It’s no secret that vaping has exploded in popularity over the last few years. True “veterans” of vaping may have been doing it since as early as 2006. But did you know the first e-cig was invented and patented over 50 years ago? Herbert A. Gilbert is considered the first to invent what we know today as the electronic cigarette. His invention involved flavor cartridges and heating elements to produce a smokeless flavor that when inhaled resembled that of a real cigarette; without anything other than air to be inhaled. The design for Gilberts invention can be seen below. 

Unfortunately, Gilberts invention never really gained any traction in the real world. There are multiple reasons for this, probably the biggest being that tobacco companies we’re already booming during the time of this invention. Another flaw, is in the fact that with Herbert’s designed, there is nothing to be inhaled except flavored air. In an interview with Gilbert, when asked if he believed his device would have been as effective as one to produce vapor his answer was as follows:

“No. A major part of the tobacco smokers addiction is said to be the tactile / physical aspect, (the other part is the chemical addiction). Therefore in my opinion, without the visual effect of vapour, which makes the “addict” think of their usual “smoke”, I doubt it would work nearly as effectively. Further, I am willing to wager that referring to steam as vapor is even older than I am…so feel free think of my flavored, medicated, water steam as vapor because that is how logic dictates i view this question.”

For more than 40 years the existence of such a device, a smokeless odorless electronic powered cigarette, was unknown to most. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that a man by the name of Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, invented what we now know as the modern e-cig, or “vape”. His device consisted of a few essential parts; a battery, cartridge, and an atomizer containing a solution composed of nicotine and propylene glycol, as most modern vapes do. It is said that his main inspiration for this invention was the death of his father, who died of lung cancer as a result of smoking.


Hon Lik; The inventor of the modern e-cig.

Ever since the release of this technology, numerous companies, researchers etc. have adopted and improved upon Hon Lik’s design, turning vape into a huge industry. In about a decade vaping has exploded into a huge industry, helping many people kick their addiction to cigarettes. Numerous “E-Liquids”, which are used with refillable tank-based vaporizers, have come out, as well as power supplies, control units(boxes), atomizers, cartomizers accessories and more. With the growth of vaping, there has been a lot of controversy as to whether or not it is beneficial for people or society. In recent years the FDA has moved more and more to control the distribution/use of vaporizers, but that’s a topic for another article. Fact is since Hon Lik’s first release in 2006, vaping has only been going up, and has helped numerous people kick their unhealthy addiction to cigarettes. It is interesting to think where this technology may evolve in the upcoming years. Until then, keep on vaping, and keep away from cigarettes.