E-Cigarettes May Be Older Than You Think

ecigElectronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, have taken the world by storm over the past several years. From its beginnings in China in the early 21st century, vaping spread to Europe and then to the United States. It’s become a popular pastime for tobacco users around the world who are looking for an alternative to smoking that allows them to customize the level of nicotine they take in and even the flavor of the e-liquid they use.
But what you probably didn’t know about vaping is that it has a much longer history. While modern e-cigarettes were first developed and marketed in the early 2000s, the first e-cigarette patent was filed in the early 1960s. The term “vaping” was first coined in the early 1980s, in reference to another smokeless cigarette first developed in the late 1970s.

Herbert Gilbert and the First Electronic Cigarette
The first e-cigarette was invented in 1963 by Herbert Gilbert, a Korean War veteran who worked at a family-owned scrap yard in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Gilbert’s patent describes an e-cigarette that varies little in design from the ones that have become so popular among vapers today. But Gilbert’s invention never got off the ground.

Why? Gilbert attempted to get manufacturers interested in his product, but there was little market for it in the early 1960s. It was an era during which traditional cigarette use was widespread. The health risks of smoking were poorly understood. Smoking was permissible in public places of all kinds. As anyone who’s ever seen “Mad Men” knows, people in the Sixties smoked at home, at the office, in restaurants and bars, in their cars, and even in airplanes. Manufacturers simply didn’t think a smokeless alternative to tobacco was necessary, and left the idea on the table.

ecig2Vaping Emerges in the Seventies
As far as most people are aware, vaping didn’t become a thing until 10 or 15 years ago. But the practice — and the term “vaping” — emerged during that era of disco and mustaches, the 1970s. Gilbert’s patented e-cigarette allowed the user to exhale hot air, but the first e-cigarette that produced heated water vapor emerged in the late 1970s. Dr. Norman Jacobson invented the device, which allows users to inhale nicotine and water vapor, much in the same way today’s e-cigarettes do. In an article published in Medical World News on February 18, 1980, Dr. Jacobson coined the term “vaping” to describe the use of his device, which he claimed successfully helped smokers quit using tobacco. Just two days earlier, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on the new device, comparing it to nicotine gum, which at that time was not yet available in the United States.

A Worldwide Phenomenon
Vaping would not become the popular pastime it is today until the early years of the 21st century. Pharmacist Hon Lik, a 52-year-old resident of Beijing, invented the modern e-cigarette as it is known and loved by so many vapers today in 2003. His patent is very similar to the one filed by Herbert Gilbert in 1963 — so much so that, in an interview with the Ashtray Blog, Gilbert said, “There is no electric cigarette today, that I have seen, that does not follow the basic road map set forth in my original patent. If you remove any part shown in my original patent from their electric cigarette it will not function.” Gilbert does admit, however, that in many modern designs, the components occur in different sizes and positions, and have different mechanisms of control, than in his original design.

Hon Lik’s 2003 invention was an idea whose time had finally come. His company, Golden Dragon Holdings, chose to develop and market the device, and even changed their name to Ruyan, which means “like smoke” in Chinese. E-cigarettes first appeared in Europe in 2006 and just a year later, the first e-cigs were sold on the American market.

You might enjoy vaping as much as the next hobbyist, but do you know the truth about its history? There are several vaping devices that have emerged already like those desktop vaporizers and portable ones (Check out www.davincivaporizer.com to see advanced portable vaping devices).”

Electronic cigarettes are more than 50 years old, and even the term “vaping” is older than many of the people who use it. So the next time you take a puff of your e-cig, know that you’re participating in a time-honored tradition, not just the next big fad.