History of Vaping — Who Invented Vaping

Vaping suddenly became a thing within the last decade or so. Actually, vaping had been around a long time before 2013, but it came in forms other than the convenient vape pens that are now ubiquitous around the globe.

It turns out that human beings haven’t just smoked things for millennia — they’ve vaped them too. Learn how vaping began and how it has evolved in response to overwhelming demand.

Why do people smoke?

Smoking is one of the oldest human activities. Ancient humans primarily smoked for either religious or medicinal reasons, but even in the dawning days of civilization, there were the beginnings of a gradual understanding that smoking could be far more.

To understand why ancient humans smoked, we must first understand what smoking is: Smoking is the act of inhaling physical material that has been incinerated. In most cases, plant matter is smoked, but as primitive people around the world came to recognize, you can smoke pretty much anything.

Anthropologists used to think that ancient peoples smoked essentially at random. Plants got near fire, lit aflame, and the smoke they produced was accidentally inhaled — yielding results.

More recent research, however, indicates that ancient smoking may have been much more deliberate than we gave our ancestors credit for. Whatever the case may be, ancient and modern peoples are united by the core benefits of smoking:

  1. Instant activation
  2. Potent effects
  3. Easy to share
  4. Communal bonding

Lighting them entirely on fire, however, isn’t the only way to activate the special substances in certain plants that so profoundly impact the body and mind. As ancient peoples found out and modern inventors rediscovered, there might be a safer and even more effective option.

Why do people vape?

In most cases, the active substances in plants that people want to inhale by smoking are oils. Even though it does the trick, incineration isn’t the most effective way to transform the liquid oils in plants into inhalable gases — vaporization is.

The only problem is that vaporizing oils is a much more delicate process than incinerating them. Whether the “whoops-I-lit-it-on-fire” theory is correct or not, it’s a relatively simple task to tong a coal from the fire, put it on top of some dried plants in a rudimentary pipe, and inhale.

To vaporize the oils in a plant, on the other hand, you have to heat it to just the right temperature — not too high. Ancient peoples clearly experimented with vaping, but it was only with modern technology that vaporizing plant oils finally became viable on a mass scale.

Is vaping better than smoking?

When it comes to vaping vs. smoking, there is no “better” or “worse.” We really mean it — smoking has gotten a bad rap, but that’s mainly due to the chemicals in cigarettes, not the act of smoking itself.

Comparing the two, smoking is the more robust, natural experience while vaping is more refined and targeted. Some might be disappointed by what they perceive to be the weakness of vapes while others might be put off by the fiery intensity of smoking.

Vaping does appear to be objectively better than smoking, however, in at least one important way. More research needs to be done, but it appears the same substances may be considerably more bioavailable when vaped than they are when smoked.

Since bioavailability is the measurement of how much of a substance your body can use before it is excreted, it’s absolutely necessary to take the comparative absorption of vaping vs. smoking into account. We’ll leave the health conclusions to the experts, though.

History of vaping — timeline

Without any further ado, let’s cover the world’s entire history of vaping in a brief timeline:

— 10,000 BC: Primitive vaping equipment —

All smoke contains vapor, so you could say that human beings have been vaping as long as they’ve been smoking. The art of removing smoke and accentuating vapor may have evolved considerably since prehistoric times, but it’s clear from archaeological evidence that even the most primitive smokers took measures to reduce the concentrations of plant material in their smoke.

— 16th century AD: Hookahs and similar devices —

One of the distillations of early efforts toward vaporization was the Middle Eastern hookah, a water pipe that produces clouds more vapor than smoke. Shisha, the wet tobacco mixture used in hookahs, isn’t much better for you than smokeable tobacco, but the invention of the hookah was at least a step in the right direction.

— 1927” The “electric vaporizer” —

Little-known American inventor Joseph Robinson patented the first electronic cigarette in 1927. Nothing much came of this obscure vape prototype, though.

— 1963” The “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette” —

Herbert A. Gilbert tried desperately to shop his primitive e-cigarette to various tobacco companies, but something about the “non-tobacco” in his invention’s name rubbed Gilbert’s prospective buyers the wrong way. Gilbert’s prototypes look a lot like modern vapes, though.

— Mid-1980s: Jed Rose’s “distilled smoke” —

The guy who made the nicotine patch also invented a type of distilled nicotine vapor in the 1980s. Yep, it’s true.

— Late 1990s: The lithium-ion battery revolution —

Toward the end of the 1990s, technological developments finally made lithium-ion batteries, some of the most efficient batteries in existence, small enough to compete with traditional lead-acid counterparts. The days of modern vape batteries were in the making.

— 2000: The Volcano Vaporizer —

The Volcano vape showed that at-home vaping could be both elegant and effective. Its giant inflatable bag and heavy base aren’t all that portable, though.

— 2013: Hon Lik’s e-cigarette —

Chinese inventor Hon Lik had finally had enough. Puffing back three packs of cigarettes per day, Lik broke down and built the world’s first real vape pen when his dad — also a ridiculously heavy smoker — died of lung cancer.

— The future of vaping —

Hon Lik’s original prototypes have been improved upon substantially. In the future, vape pens will be even smaller and last longer. We may even change the way we vape again entirely.

What are the best ways to vape?

Over the centuries, human beings have devised a variety of vaporizing technologies. From devices like the hookah that blend smoking and vaping to modern, electric tabletop vaporizers, quite a few methods have been invented.

It’s always best to adapt to the times. These days, there are vape devices that outstrip even last decade’s models to a staggering degree. At the same time, some of the oldest vaporizers still work the best.

Here are the three best ways to vape we’d recommend:

— Disposable vape cartridges —

In our experience, disposable vape cartridges containing hemp or cannabis distillate provide the simplest and most rewarding vape experiences. No mess, no hassle, just extremely concentrated clouds of cannabinoids absorbing through your lung lining and into your bloodstream.

— The Volcano Classic —

The Volcano vaporizer is still around today, and it remains one of the best pieces of vaping equipment around. Choose from the updated Volcano and the Volcano Classic, which has the original analog temperature dial.

— Dabbing —

Yes, it might not seem like it, but dabbing is vaping. Dabbing used to be relatively complicated, but new inventions like the Puffco Peak make dabbing your favorite concentrate almost as easy as hitting a disposable vape cartridge.

Vaping history FAQ

Let’s answer everything we can about vaping before we conclude:

1. How did vaping start?

Modern vaping got its start with Herbert Gilbert’s smokeless cigarette in 1963. No one bought Gilbert’s invention, however, and it wasn’t until the 1990s that vaporizing had a comeback with the beginnings of lithium-ion batteries and tabletop devices like the Volcano Classic. In 2013, Chinese chain-smoker Hon Lik completed the saga by inventing the modern vape pen. 

2. Who invented vaping and why?

The invention of vaping was a collaboration across half a century. In 1963, Herbert A. Gilbert invented the first modern electronic cigarette, and in 2013 (exactly 50 years later), Han Lik invented the first workable, portable vape pen — completing the circuit of this exciting moment in history.

3. When was vaping invented?

Three dates are most important in the history of vaping: 1927, when the first “electric vaporizer” was invented; 1963, when Herbert Gilbert invented his “smokeless cigarette,” and 2013, when Han Lik invented the modern vape pen. You could also say that 2000, the year the Volcano Classic was invented, is also an important year in vaping’s fascinating history.

4. What is the most popular e-cigarette on the market right now?

The most popular hemp vape cartridges are made by Secret Nature. With more than 10,000 verified customer reviews, CO2-extracted raw hemp nectar combined with live resin cannabis terpenes, and the best stainless steel and ceramic hardware ever invented, it’s clear why Secret Nature vapes are even more popular than recreational cannabis products in some places.

Shop now

"Everyone has the right to choose what they consume. We believe in creating the most premium cannabis products that will enhance anyones chosen lifestyle."

Tyler William, Founder and Ceo