April 28, 2022

Gutenberg's printing press revolutionized the written word.

Edison’s light bulb illuminated the world.

The Wright brothers made travel across the globe possible.

But none of these inventors got there alone. Instead, they built upon previous ideas, attempts, successes, and failures. 

Let’s add another name to the list of innovators who radically changed things — Hon Lik, inventor of the modern vaping device. But what’s the full backstory on the vape? How did it evolve from its early origins of hookah to what Hon Lik ended up with when he developed the modern vape? Keep reading as we dive into the facts and history of vaping.

History of Vaping Timeline

This brief history of vaping will include about 2,500 years of info condensed into about three minutes’ of the highlights. First up, ancient vaping.

Ancient History of Vaping

The earliest record of vaping dates back to the 5th century BC. Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian, noted people would heat herbs and oils on hot stones, turning them to vapors and inhaling them.

Jump ahead a millennia or so to the mid-1500s, and you’ll discover Irfan Shaikh, a physician from India, invented the shisha, also known as a hookah. This device vaporized tobacco with water and made it inhalable without directly smoking it. 

Modern History

The 20th century was filled with many stepping stone developments towards the current vaping device, even though it was never commercially viable or successful. For instance, in the late 1920s, Joseph Robinson applied for a patent for an electronic cigarette. Although the patent was granted in 1930, it’s not clear if a prototype was ever developed or manufactured. 

Fast forward to 1965, Herbert A. Gilbert filed a patent for the “Smokeless,” an electronic cigarette that used a battery-powered filament to vaporize flavored liquid to then be inhaled. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, he was far much ahead of his time. The companies he pitched (tobacco, pharmaceutical, etc.) never developed the product, instead opting to wait out the patent.

In 1979, computer pioneer Phil Ray and his physician Norman Johnson developed a new nicotine delivery system. Unfortunately, the design was flawed and the product a commercial bust. But it did give rise to the new term we all know and love — “vape.”

The 1990s saw a flurry of activity and numerous patents for electronic cigarette-like devices filed by both individual inventors and tobacco companies. The history here gets a bit murky for these devices because of government regulation. The FDA did not permit “unapproved drug delivery devices,” and despite tobacco not being under the jurisdiction of the FDA, drug delivery methods were. 

But have no fear…there’s nothing murky or muddled about what came next!

E-Cigs Hit the Market

In 2003, a Chinese pharmacist, researcher, and inventor named Hon Lik patented the e-cigarette as we now know it. The reason for Hon Lik’s invention is powerful stuff. A smoker himself, he’d recently lost his father to lung cancer from the same habit. His father’s death affected him tremendously, so he began to research ways to obtain nicotine without the harm caused by traditional cigarettes. In 2006, his e-cigarette was commercially available across Europe and in the U.S.

Since then, numerous companies have developed a wide range of designs of vaping devices. These days, refillable and disposable devices can be purchased nearly anywhere, and new flavors and various puff counts are constantly being developed.

So there you have it, a brief history of vaping! Vaping has been around for thousands of years, but only in recent decades has it become commercially successful and widespread. And sure, there are a hell of a lot of companies that want to sell you a vape…but how many give you the enjoyable experience you’re looking for?

Quality matters. So when you’re looking for a great vaping experience, demand the best. Don’t settle. Don’t compromise. IGNITE your life.