Vaping has a longer history than you might think. Here is your guide to the history of vaping. The true history of vaping started in the 1500s in India. Jesuits brought tobacco over, and a doctor named Gilani decided it’d be better to add water vapor to the mix instead of burning and smoking the leaves directly. He invented a way to vaporize the water with the tobacco in a glass water pipe. Meanwhile, others in India used coconut and straw, while over in Egypt, they were vaping herbs on hot stones.

In the 1600s, vape pipes became all the rage in Sultan circles and among the elite in the Ottoman Empire. In Persia too, vaping in a shisha glass bowl was part of the social elite culture. Soon women started smoking, and vaporizing flavored tobacco in the home became commonplace among friends and at social gatherings.

Sound familiar? Yes, vaping today is part of social culture. But when did modern-day e-vaping start and in the form of more-portable cigarettes rather than pipes, you ask?

We’ve put together this vaping history guide to give you an idea of the recent developments starting with the invention of the e-cigarette. Keep reading to learn about the roots of this culture.

The First Electronic Vaporizer

In 1927, Joseph Robinson filed a patent for a new invention of his: the electric vaporizer. He got the patent in 1930. The device wasn’t meant for vaporizing tobacco smoke, but it functions the same way an e-cigarette does.

Robinson designed the device to heat and vaporize medical compounds for inhalation. He wanted something that could easily be used by everyone and held without it getting too hot.

It’s not clear if he ever even made the prototype.

The First Smokeless Non-Tobacco Cigarette

In 1963, another inventor named Herbert A. Gilbert filed a patent for a “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette.” The device offered a way to inhale moist flavored vapor instead of inhaling burned tobacco. Like Robinson, he also mentions that it could be used to inhale the medicated vapor.

Like e-cigarettes of today, Gilbert’s non-tobacco cigarette involved a heating device and flavorful, smokeless air. His goal was also to make a device that you could hold without burning your hand.

Gilbert’s smokeless cigarette didn’t make it big time, but we give him credit for the first real electronic vape cigarette.

The Nicotine Vapers

In the late 70s, computer pioneer Phil Ray set out to make a device that could evaporate nicotine for smoking in a cigarette. He worked with his doctor, Norman Jacobson. They did the first formal research on ways to “deliver” nicotine. Delivery means how to get it to you so you can inhale it.

They managed to design a vape cigarette, make it, and sell it. But it didn’t take off. The design was flawed, so it probably didn’t work very well. It also wasn’t electronic.

These forward-thinking inventors did, however, coin the term vape.

The Battery Puffer

In the 1990s, new patents for new options for smoking were filed, including a few for electronic cigarettes. Both individual inventors and corporate tobacco giants were in the game of finding the new smoke.

Reynolds sold a cigarette substitute called the Eclipse in 1994. It used glass fibers and a carbon tip for heating Their motto: “Heat not burn.”

Philip Morris also brought out a battery-powered cig in 1998 and named it the Accord. It was billed as a new smoke system.

Phillip Morris spent $200 million to develop it. The lighter was electronically controlled. It only burned the tobacco when you puffed. It could sit in the ashtray (without ashes) for hours in between puffs. The said it looked like a “kazoo” and didn’t fit the Marlboro Man brand well.  It flopped.


Though consider this: The FDA shot down the release of e-cigs in the 90s. They didn’t regulate tobacco items, but they did regulate delivery mechanisms. This could be why the ugly but practical Accord didn’t make it. Though e-cigs didn’t happen in Europe either. It’s a mystery.

In Europe

There were no e-cigs on the Continent, but other goodies were popping up in the 90s. Take a cousin of the e-cigarette that came out in Europe to vape cannabis. The inventor was a guy named “Eagle” Bill Amato, and he sold it in Amsterdam. In 2000, the Germans were inspired by Eagle and made a vaper called the Volcano. It didn’t move; rather it sat on your table.

Finally the Real Deal in a Dream

The true e-cigarette hit the market in 2004 in China. It was invented by a man named Hon Lik, a pharmacist and medical researcher. His father had died of lung cancer, and Hon Lik was a smoker. He wanted something that he felt comfortable smoking and didn’t have the risks.

The Hon Lik Dream

Hon Lik worried a lot about smoking, but he also loved everything about it and couldn’t quit. He tried though and used nicotine patches.

Then, one night, he had a dream. Maybe it was nicotine-induced because he slept in the patch. But the story goes that he dreamed he was drowning, but then suddenly, he could breathe the water. It had turned to magical vapor.

Dream Turns to Reality

After his magical vaping dream, Hon Lik set to work. He knew what he had to do. He had to create a cigarette that let you breathe vapor.

What he invented was the electronic vape cigarette. It had an atomizer of the ultrasound variety. It had vape juice with nicotine. And it had propylene glycol in a plastic holder. It had a battery.

Sound familiar?

Hon Lik’s e-smoke let people partake in smoking without the risks of traditional tobacco smokes. People could still enjoy the feeling from the nicotine. Smoking e-cigarettes could be part of their daily life. They could smoke like before. Take smoke breaks. Relax. Enjoy their personal ritual. Go out and smoke with friends.

E-Cigarette Success in China and Europe

Hon Lik’s dream was fully realized when the company Lik worked for, Golden Dragon Holdings, put it on the market. It was a huge, dreamy success.

Gold Dragon Holdings realized some dreams too as sales soared. To solidify their success and brand, they changed their name to Ruyan, which means “like smoking” in Chinese, because it’s so much like smoking.

Lik and Ruyan’s smokes hit Europe by storm in 2006. And then in 2007, it made it to the United States.

The Fabulous Cartomizer

In 2007, Hon Lik’s e-cigarette design got an upgrade thanks to two English brothers. They came from Woking, Surrey, and were called Traiq and Umer Sheikh. The improvement they invented is called a cartomizer. It lets the smoker get more vapor, a bigger hit, and improved flavor in the vape. It also dealt with some spit-back that was happening in the older design.

The cartomizer replaces the atomizer in the e-smoke. It takes the juice holder and combines it with the heater (the coil). So now it’s one integrated piece.

The cartomizer also has something to absorb the juice and better send it to the coil where it’s turned into vapor. This is where the real action is with the increase in vape production.

The Clearomizer

The next innovation in e-cigarettes was the clearomizer. This is a step up from the cartomizer because the cartomizer has to be tossed when it’s burned out. The clearomizer lets you replace the atomizer coil. This is great because it’s much easier and cheaper to get a new coil than to get a new tank.

Then came a glass clearomizer. This was great because vape juice is acidic and can wear down the plastic into the juice. With glass, vapers enjoy a better-tasting, more-pure juice, and vape flavor. Plus, the glass just looks better and doesn’t get corroded.

Vape Culture

Vaping e-cigarettes took off big time in the naughts. And with it came a vaping culture that took vaping to heart. Vapers smoke together. They vape as part of their routine. And they vape to relax and de-stress. Think yoga class with flavor. Actually, vapers are known to do yoga too. They’re versatile.

So much, so that take their love of vaping and made vape devices their own, literally.

E-cigs are pretty basic technology-wise, so vapers could come up with new modifications for what they wanted. They made their devices better to suit their style. They personalized the mech and the tech. And the e-cig makers caught on fast, following trends as they popped up. The professional makers also respect their peeps and put out devices that vapers can easily modify/customize as they like.

Some of the boosts to the e-cig have been in newly finagled batteries, different types of batteries, different styles of cigarettes, and accessories.

Innovation and The Mods

Where are we at now? Mods are in da house! There are so many types of e-smokes. There are a bunch of shapes and different ways to put them together. Anything that doesn’t look like a replica of a classic tobacco cigarette is called a “mod.” Even the vape speak is getting modded. If it’s mechanical, it’s called a mech mod, by the way.

So Many Mods

Let’s get excited about all the options. There’s the flashlight mod. One of the first mods out there for batteries. It’s a flashlight shape: a hollow cylinder for the battery, plus threading and a switch.

Digital mods have a variety of volts and watts. Pen mods look like a pen that you smoke. Atomizer mods include a change of wick. Some vapers mod up their atomizers and cartomizers with DIY coils made of wire. That way they don’t have to fork out cash and time for new coils.

A popular cartomizer mod is to pop holes and dunk them in vape juice. A cartridge/pod mod is a drop pod attached with a magnet for easy refill for new users. Think Suorin Drop Pods with draw-activated firing mech. Yeah, sounds techie and that’s part of the fun.

The possibilities are endless.

And with dr dabber vape, mods galore, vape shops have taken off, and the culture is thriving and inventing. Right now, the story is being written.

The History of Vaping Mods On

The delicious enjoyment of vaporized nicotine has been around much longer than e-cigarettes. But we’re right in the thick of so many new developments with mods that we’re making the history of vaping as we speak. Or puff. Right in this moment.

So, go out and enjoy a leisurely smoke. Ponder some mod hacks. Maybe you’ll come up with one that will make vaping history.

Expand your mind like in college. Big ideas are waiting. And so are some other life hacks if you’re curious. Visit our site to read more.