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The History of Vaping

History of Vaping

The History of Vaping


In recent years vaping has become all the rage. But e-cigarettes are not as new as many think; they actually have a long history that predates their fashion subculture today.

The early days of modern vaping were not shrouded in coolness or guided by youth, as appears today. Today, vaping is often seen as a hobby, leisure activity, or even fashion statement, but modern e-cigarettes were born out of necessity.


Vaping: Born out of necessity has developed its own culture.

People have long struggled to find alternatives to smoking. Different products, from nicotine gum to patches even snuff, all had varying degrees of success, but none has become a cultural phenomenon like vaping.

Vapes owe a lot of this success to e-cigarettes. While they are essentially the same, there are key aesthetic and functional differences between vapes and e-cigarettes. However, no history of vaping would be complete without talking about its origins from ecigs.

The first mention of e-cigarettes and vaping came in the 1930s when inventor Joseph Robinson tried to create a vaporizing device for "medicinal compounds." Although his idea was successfully patented, it is unclear whether any successful prototypes were ever created.

It wasn't until over 30 years later, in the 1960s, that another inventor managed to put something together. Herbert Gilbert designed and built a device that could burn tobacco without smoke. Sadly, the product was never commercialized.


Volcano Vaporizer

Volcano Vaporizer

This is where it gets interesting. In the early 2000s, the game-changing volcanic vape device began to make ripples in the US vaping market. It had been sold in the 90s but mostly in conventions (at least in the US) for thousands of dollars. It was very novel back then, and most didn't know what to make of it. It clearly wasn't made for tobacco but took a while for people to get their heads around. Throughout the 2000s, it became a cultural phenomenon and started the discussion about alternative ways to smoke marijuana and introduced many smokers to the idea of vaporization. 

The appeal of the Volcano vaporizer comes from a number of key advantages:

1. It's said to deliver a stronger hit

2. It reduced the odors of smoking

3. Its novelty

Today, cannabis vapes have adopted these components and offer a very similar value proposition, but generally in a more compact form. 




However, it wasn't until 2003 that e-cigarettes were actually invented. When Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, and inventor, lost his father to lung cancer and cigarette addict himself, he set out to create a radical alternative solution.

Hon Lik's e-cigarettes are simple in design. Visually, they are similar to regular cigarettes. The whole point of e-cigarettes is to mimic real cigarettes as closely as possible and satisfy smokers' desire for real cigarettes.

This revolutionary invention became more and more popular and slowly spread to all parts of the world. People accept this new way of smoking, which is not as harmful to smokers or those around them. 

It was during this time that enterprising inventors and companies realized the commercial potential of e-cigarettes. This led to an experimentation period as companies tried to outcompete each other for market share 

making ever more stylish and cool iterations of vapes. 



Vapes are markedly different from e-cigarettes: they are not primarily used to simulate smoking, although many users do use them as a way to quit. They're not physically like cigarettes. They also have additional features that e-cigarettes do not have, such as the ability to be modified to create larger or thicker "clouds." These clouds serve no functional purpose. Instead, they are purely for enjoyment.

It's hard to say exactly who invented the first vape, who came up with the idea for highly customizable vape mods, or even who first came up with the idea for now very popular vape pods.

Vape evolution

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What we do know is that e-cigarettes suddenly became popular around the 2010s, forming their own subculture of enthusiasts and collectors. This, in turn, led to the creation of hundreds of companies that make their own vape products. It's safe to say that modern vaping has strayed from its original purpose. In fact, some of today's most popular vape products are more like Pendrive than cigarettes.

Like nicotine e-cigarettes, marijuana vapes have evolved over the years. The hulking Volcano vape has now been moved aside or only brought out for parties, but for everyday use, consumers have turned to the slick cannabis vape pens, electric e-rigs, and electric dab straws. There is some debate about the safety of these products, most research and experts in the field point to the devices being inherently safer than smoking cannabis due to fewer carcinogens and other toxins created by the combustion of smoking being inhaled.