The officially documented history of electronic cigarettes date back to 1963. While it is generally assumed that electronic cigarettes were first conceived of in China, this is not true. The electronic cigarette first appeared in the United States; the first electronic cigarette patent was also granted in the US. The first person to design what could be called an electronic cigarette prototype was Herbert A. Gilbert. Patented in 1963, the name of Gilbert’s design was “A Smokeless Non-Tobacco Cigarette”. Gilbert’s tobacco and smoke-free electronic cigarette device wasn't built around cigarette paper and tobacco. Instead, he based his e-cigarette on warm, moist, and aromatic vapors. He was able to make logical deductions and realized that for a smoking cessation method to work on nicotine addicts, that method must include nicotine. The electronic cigarette visualized by Gilbert operated on a premise whereby a liquid containing nicotine was atomized, and thus inhaled.
As part of the widespread and erroneous presumption that the electronic cigarette was invented in China, Hon Lik, a Chinese chemist, is widely credited for inventing the electronic cigarette. While Hon Lik might not be the inventor of electronic cigarettes, every method and technology behind today’s modern electronic cigarette can be attributed to him. All contemporary electronic cigarette models owe to Hon Lik’s inventions. Like the new millennium, he got his start during the early 00’s and put forth milestones that we use as benchmarks today. Take atomization for instance. Atomization refers to the transformation of electronic cigarette liquid to vapor (coincidentally, this is where the name for one of the primary parts of an electronic cigarette comes from – the “atomizer”). Hon Lik added nicotine to propylene glycol and applied pressure to channel it through an ultrasound piezoelectric separator. In this way, he was able to vaporize electronic cigarette liquids. It’s nearly 2014 and atomization technology is still based upon this principle. It wouldn’t be proper not to mention another incredible invention Hon Lik came up with when talking about electronic cigarettes. Hon Lik didn’t just invent the wheel with his atomization work, he also revolutionized cartridges and mouthpieces. He pioneered plastic cartridges and proved that a cartridge could simultaneously act as a mouthpiece for e-cigarettes.
The rest is history.