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Vaping has been around a lot longer than most people realize. The first patent for an electronic cigarette was filed in 1963 by Herbert A. Gilbert. Herbert’s creation was in response to the first public article condemning the Tobacco Industry and outlining the harm caused by traditional tobacco use. While novel for its time, the technology unfortunately just wasn’t available for it be a viable alternative to tobacco use. During the 1980’s there was a small attempt to re-introduce vaping to the American consumer, although much like earlier attempts, the technology just wasn’t able create a viable alternative.
Fast forward to 2003. After the patents expired, a Chinese pharmacist by the name of Hon Lik (widely viewed as the father of modern vaping) saw the design and sought to improve upon it. His first attempts were to create a device that used ultrasonic waves for the atomization process of e-liquid. After a few failed attempts he discovered that he could create a reliable and controlled atomization process through the use of heat and thus the first coil was born.
Mirroring the technology industry, vaping experienced a very rapid evolution. Devices initially started as cigarette style disposable devices which, while effective in delivering nicotine, didn’t create the experience that most users were looking for. It wasn’t until the Ego or Pen Style battery first came out that Vaping as we know it today truly caught on. Finally there was a device that had enough battery life to last throughout the day and produced enough vapor to be comparable to using traditional tobacco products.
The advent of these Ego style batteries also unintentionally sparked the creation of the first mechanical devices, using a combination of parts from your local hardware store, dead laptops, a flashlight, and your local cable provider (the TV cable is actual a 510 connection, which is found on most modern vaping devices).
These first mechanical devices introduced vaping as we know it today, also known as sub-ohm vaping. These devices allowed the users to create their own coils and dramatically increase the volume of vapor that is produced. The common nomenclature for these devices and users is “Cloud Chasers,” as the volume of vapor is more reminiscent of a cloud or fog bank. The downside to these devices is they lack any form of built in safety and rely entirely on the individual's understanding of the batteries power, and coil resistance (also known as Ohm's Law). While these devices were increasingly popular, the understanding of using them safely wasn’t as widely known which resulted in multiple instances of batteries venting or even exploding.
It wasn’t until mechanical devices first started to emerge in the United States that I became part of the Vaping Revolution. I learned how to build a low-powered device with plastic tubing, 2 AA batteries, some copper wire, a pen cap and a piece of coaxial cable (really it was just me harnessing my inner MacGyver). From there I became enamored with the science and technology that goes into every device that we use today. While each of them may look different, the principles they run off of are generally the same. The universal truth, of course, is battery safety: Don’t push your batteries past their designed thresholds.
Remember: Battery safety isn’t limited to vaping. This car caught fire from a battery shorting out and igniting the fuel line.
These days, the technology continues to evolve allowing users to experience the vapor production of a mechanical device through a regulated and controlled circuit. The current products focus on allowing the user to control the volume, heat, and flavor of the e-liquid through the use of Temperature Control and/or adjustable wattage.
Today, the tradition of creating a quality experience that encourages safety of product and use is the mainstay for the vaping industry. In the United States alone there are countless independent organizations who review, audit and measure e-liquid and devices.