Vaping is almost as old as smoking itself. Throughout history, man has used heat to create smokable vapor that they enjoy. In the 20th century, patents were developed to produce vaporizers. Portable vaporizers emerged on the market in the 21st century.
Vaping in Early History
The ancient Egyptians had a vaping technique that involved using hot stones to vape herbs.
According to Herodotus, an ancient historian, “The Scythians take some of this hemp-seed and throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it vaporizes and gives out such a vapor as no Grecian vapor-bath can exceed; the Scythians, delighted, shout for joy.”
Another similar practice is the inhaling of shisha with hookahs. This practice emerged around the 15th century. Heated coals were used to vaporize shisha, which is a flavored tobacco. Irfan Sheikh invented the first shisha. The practice of smoking hookah became a status symbol. Dignitaries would share shisha after formal dinners with visiting guests.
While this is different from modern atomizers, the practice of using heat to warm up herbs has been practiced for centuries.
The First E-Cigarette
The history of vaping goes back almost sixty years. The first prototype for an e-cigarette was filed in 1927 and granted in 1930 by a man named Joseph Robinson. He stated, ““My invention relates to vaporizing devices for holding medicinal compounds which are electrically heated to produce vapors for inhalation.”
It wasn’t intended for nicotine or tobacco, but it does resemble contemporary vaporizers. Although it is interesting to see the prototype, none were ever produced.
The first patent for an e-cigarette with the intended purpose of smoking tobacco was filed in 1963 by Herbert Gilbert and was granted in 1965. He said, “I had to find a way to replace burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air.”
In the design, you see familiar elements like the heating apparatus, flavored cartridges and smokeless air with flavor.
The device didn’t receive popularity in the market because tobacco companies were not interested in a smokeless tobacco. He did create several prototypes for it, but it’s not clear whether or not he use it to smoke nicotine.
In 1979, one of the pioneers of computers named Phil Ray worked with a physician named Norman Johnson created a commercial version of the e-cigarette. Phil Ray was credited with being the one to invent the microprocessor. He also managed the Apollo program.
The device had a piece of paper soaked in nicotine that delivered it to the user without using combustion.
This team performed the first formal research about nicotine delivery. The product was delivered but had a faulty design. However, from this development the word “vape” as a verb was added to the lexicon.
In the 90’s, many patents for inhaling devices for nicotine were filed. Most used physical propulsion or evaporation and some were similar to e-cigarettes. Reynolds created the Eclipse which was a device that used heat but not burneing. In 1998, a US tobacco company asked permission from the FDA to bring to the market a version of the e cigarette, but were denied.
First Commercial E-Cigarette
It wasn’t until 2003 did the first e-cigarette reach the commercial market. A Chinese man name Hon Lik was searching for an answer to his cigarette addiction. He was a medical researcher and pharmacist.
There is a story that he fell asleep wearing his nicotine patch. In the dream, he was drowning at sea. Then, the water turned into vapor, which allowed him to breathe more easily.
The dream inspired him to make a patent. His e cigarette consisted of an atomizer, battery, and a nicotine cartridge compiled into a plastic container. The system allowed the user to inhale a vapor from a nicotine liquid solution from the air that activates the atomizer.
This design eliminated a lot of the toxic by-products and tar from traditional cigarettes.
In 2003, he patented the e-liquid and e-cigarette. They were then introduced to Europe and the United States in 2006. His company was called “Golden Dragon Holdings” and the device was called Ruyan, which means “like smoke.”
Two brothers from the UK, named Umer and Tariq Sheikh invented the cartomizer.
In Amsterdam in the 90’s, Bill “Eagle” Amato brought about a cannabis vaporizer. He was an American living overseas. The original device was presented to the public in the Cannabis Cup in 1994. He was inspired to create the device by a farmer from California. The device won numerous first place trophies, and was a favorite exhibit at the Cannabis Cup for more than 10 years.
The first device was very large. It was about the size of a barrel. It was made of a large container with two pipes connected to it. Herbs were placed in one of the tubes and heated with a big heater. The vapor was then inhaled with the other glass tube. This was the first conduction vaporizer.
The “Shake and Vape” was the next design. It was a lot smaller, and it was based on the ancient Egyptian methods of vaporizing. Herbs were put in the opening, and heated with a lighter at the bottom of the bowl. It earned the nickname, “the peace pipe of the future.”
You can learn more about Amato at Sensi Seed Bank’s Hash museum, where he is a featured exhibit.
The next development in vaporizers was the BC Vaporizer. The design was based off the idea of a glass ball. It was a conduction device, with herbs based on a heated plate.
In 2000, the German stationary vaporizer called the “Volcano” was based on his design. It was invented by Storz & Bickel.
Mods, such as those from modified flashlights, hit the scene as vaping became more popular. Now, millions of people are vaping, and the technology is improving every year, with store fronts popping up all over the world. Many people are enjoying the smokeless benefits of vaping, and various handheld devices are widely available both online and in stores for people to use.