You have probably only heard about electronic cigarettes quite recently, if you did hear about them at all. However, they have been around, as an idea at least, for much longer than that.
The first official patent that deals with a product, basically very similar to the today’s e-cigarette, was filed in 1963 by Herbert A. Gilbert. Just like modern cigarettes the device presented in the patent would produce vapour from an aromatic liquid, which would then be inhaled instead of the harmful tobacco smoke. There are a number of reasons this idea was neglected up until recently. First of all, the construction was too bulky and unreliable, as they didn’t have the options offered by modern technology. Without a reliable and long lasting battery, the cigarette was not nearly as autonomous as its modern counterparts are.
Another reason for the lack of interest in this product can be found in the fact that, even though people did know that cigarettes were harmful, the awareness of exactly how harmful they can be wasn’t as developed as it is today, meaning that people didn’t really have as strong as an incentive to try and replace regular cigarettes with something else, as they do today.
The idea was addressed again by a Chinese pharmacist, Hon Lik, who basically took the same concept and modified it in accordance with the new options that were available to him. His e-cigarette is generally regarded as the first prototype of what we have today. It wasn’t until 2004 that this first generation e-cigarettes became available to people in China.
The rest of the world has had to wait until 2005 to buy them, and it wasn’t until two years later that the first international patent for this product was made. Even though most of what defined these early e-cigarettes is still present in the design, the second generation, which entered production in 2008, brought a number of improvements. The product is still constantly revised, and even if the basic concepts don’t change too much, there are still a number of areas in which the cigarettes are getting improved. Batteries are lasting longer, atomizer filaments are able to endure more heat, and the overall quality of the product is improving.