Paying Homage to the Pioneers of Vaping

Paying Homage to the Pioneers of Vaping

Who Paved the Way?

Major Industrial Pioneers
Who comes to mind when you think about major global products and industries?

Inventors, entrepreneurs and visionaries, who through a great deal of trial and tribulation, gave life to groundbreaking innovations forever changing the world. We all know the players:

Electricity and lightingThomas A. Edison
TelecommunicationsAlexander Graham Bell
AutomobilesHenry Ford
AirplanesWilbur and Orville Wright
Personal ComputersBill Gates, Steve Jobs
SteelAndrew Carnegie
OilJohn D. Rockefeller

These legendary icons possessed tremendous amount of dedication and perseverance to develop and promote their ideas, and at times defying “conventional wisdom.”

E-cigarette Industry Pioneers

Although not quite household names of those above, the forefathers of the vaping industry are a diverse mix of equally brilliant researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and doctors.

You may not know them, but these great minds are the pioneers of e-cigarettes. Without their work, we would not be vaping today.

Joseph Robinson

In attempt to dispense medicine via inhalation, in 1927 New York’s Joseph Robinson filed a patent for the Mechanical Butane Ignition Vaporizer, the first of any kind of electronic vaporizer. When asked about his creation, Robinson explained:

“My invention relates to vaporizing devices for holding medicinal compounds which are electrically heated to produce vapors for inhalation….”

Approved in 1930, Robinson’s design greatly resembled today’s e-cigarettes, but commercialization of his device never happened.

Herbert A. Gilbert

In 1963, business major and Korean War Veteran Herbert A. Gilbert, filed a patent for his own design. However, unlike fellow vaping pioneer Joseph Robinson thirty-three years beforehand, Gilbert specifically designed his contraption to be the first smokeless non-tobacco cigarette–A.K.A. the first electronic cigarette. When asked in an interview about the inspiration behind his invention, Gilbert revealed:

“I had to find a way to replace burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air. I concluded that a battery powered heat source would do the job and the first electric cigarette was born. I did build prototypes and tried using various flavors of water as steam … and it worked.”

Gilbert’s prototypes could have been manufactured, but it was an idea before its time. Although he still holds the patent for the first Nicotine Vaporizer to this day, Gilbert admitted:

“… timing can be everything and I was ahead of my time…. I am proud to be the one who started it all.”

Dr. Norman Jacobson

Jacobson introduced the concept and coined the term “vaping” in a study for the American College of Chest Physicians in Houston, TX, titled, “Non-Combustible Cigarette: Alternative Method of Nicotine Delivery.” Jacobson went on to produce the first commercialized vaping device in 1979 at Advanced Tobacco Products, Inc. He named the product FAVOR, with the tagline, “Do yourself a favor.”

Jacobson popularized the word “vaping” through countless TV interviews and newspaper stories.

His smokeless cigarettes used a totally different technology from today’s e-cigarettes and were not particularly manufacturing-friendly. As a result, Jacobson’s brainchild never gained a significant market foothold.

Hon Lik

A Chinese pharmacist, Hon Lik is the most prominent figure in e-cigarette history. Lik was the first to patent a nicotine-based electronic cigarette that could be manufactured efficiently. Filed in 2003, his patent application included technology remarkably similar to Herbert Gilbert’s unit invented 40 years earlier.

In 2006, after his patent was approved, Hon Lik became the first person to manufacture and sell e-cigarettes to a mass market–initially in China, and then internationally.

His first successful product included a battery, a plastic cartridge containing a nicotine solution in a propylene glycol suspension, and an ultrasonic atomizer. Before long, he switched to an electronic atomizer which became the de facto industry standard.

Umer and Tariq Sheikh

In 2008, brothers Umer and Tariq Sheikh invented the cartomizer in England, taking a major leap forward in e-cig technology. Before the cartomizer, a separate cartridge was attached to an atomizer. The cartomizer combined the cartridge and atomizer into one self-contained disposable unit, bringing significant economies to e-cigarette manufacturing and use.

Who Will Lead the Way Next?

If we could answer that question, we’d be selling crystal balls!

As you enjoy reading this article, passionate inventors, engineers, scientists etc. are hard at work developing the next game-changing ideas. Whether it be improving technology, originating a more flavorful e-liquid or enhancing the overall vaping experience, it’s only a matter of time before we add a new name to this distinguished list. Who knows, it might be one of you!

Do you know of anyone else who should be on this list? Let us know in the comment section. We’d love to hear from you!


The opinions and other information contained in these blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Nicopure Labs, LLC, owner of the Halo and HaloCigs marks.

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