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Evolution of the Vaping Industry: All You Need to Know About Vape History

Millions of people all around the world are currently using e-cigarettes and many of them are convinced that this is a completely new product to the market, and it has been around for several years now. But what if we tell you that vape history dates back to the middle of 20th century. Impressed? Keep on reading to find out more interesting facts about the history of vaping and vape evolution.

Go Back In Time

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Imagine the last century: tobacco, which was smoked in various forms, was used as a substance that was not only fashionable, but also considered healthy. 

The tobacco boom took place thanks to machine of automatic cigarette production invented in 1881 by an American designer James Bonsack. At first, smoking was used by the rich groups of people, and was considered as luxurious goods that only narrow elite people could afford. But in a while, tobacco smoking has spread through various social groups.
Initially, cigarettes were smoked mainly by men, because among women there was an opinion that smoking is men’s entertainment. Buy the rapidly grown tobacco industry quickly realized that they lost half of the profits from non-smoking women. Thus, the big tobacco decided to reach into women’s pockets by advertising cigarettes as an excellent slimming medicine, recommended by doctors, dentists and movie stars. Women smoked while baking cupcakes and rising children, while men smoked anytime they were awake. Smoking was considered cool, fashionable and healthy.
But in the 1960s the image of magical tobacco cigarettes began to crumble. The first scientific newspapers were pointing out that lung cancer is caused because of inhaling the substances produced by burnt tobacco.
In 1965 Herbert A. Gilbert created a device that closely resembled the modern e cigarette – the prototype, where the key components are the same as vaping devices we use today: a body, a battery, a hit source, and a cartridge filled with moisture substance. He described this device as “non-tobacco, smokeless cigarette”. 

There was no tobacco burning in it – only heating and producing vapour. Because smoking was still fashionable at that times, such an innovative idea did not come in among the people. But the idea never died.

Born In China

Most vape devices nowadays are massively manufactured in China. But how many people know that the first e cigarette was officially invented and patented in 2003 in China? A 52 year old pharmacist Hon Lik invented his vaping device after his father, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer. He constructed a prototype of the first real e cigarette. He got the idea to use a piezoelectric ultrasound-emitting element to vapourise a pressurised jet of liquid- you guessed it: nicotine diluted in propylene glycol. That’s the PG part of the PG/VG ratio you see on the side of your bottle. He got things going, and here the vaping history starts.
Initially e cigs were available in most local Chinese markets. After obtaining all permits in 2005 the Chinese company “Golden Dragon Holdings” began selling vape equipment to other regions of the world. E cigarettes appeared in the United States a year later, and this is where they gained popularity among smokers who wanted to get rid of this health destroying habit – smoking.

Historical Timeline of Electronic Cigarettes

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Despite the fact that the modern e cigarettes start their way since 2003, the first documented reference to an electronic cigarette appeared in 1930. Can you imagine that? It was invented by Joseph Robinson and was never commercialized.

Let’s point out the main periods in the vaping history.

  • 2003. The first commercial success of electronic cigarettes in China;
  • 2007. Vaping devices start getting seriously noticed and are more and more widely used. Desperate smokers buy cigalike devices in an attempt to quit tobacco cigarettes. However, the results were not as successful as today.
  • 2008. The World Health Organization (WHO) proclaims that they do not consider the electronic cigarette to be a legitimate smoking cessation aid and demands that marketers immediately remove from their materials any suggestions that the WHO considers electronic cigarettes safe and effective.
  • 2009. UK ASH claim that they support a harm reduction approach to tobacco and they recognize that e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine without the harmful toxins found in tobacco smoke, are likely to be a safer alternative to smoking.
  • 2012. In this year temperature control systems which allow vapers to optimize atomisation and vapour generation enter the game. The cigalike devices get on the back burner, and new box mods appear.
  • 2014-2015. This is when mesh mods and sub-ohm vape kits widely enter the market. The industry is reach of thousands of vape brands producing almost anything: vaping devices and hardware so as e liquids. The industry leaders appear: Smok, Innokin, Dinner Lady,
  • 2015. Public Health England (PHE) concludes that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.
  • 2016 . FDA and TPD e-cigarette regulations are officially effective.

Evolution of E Cigs

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Vaping technology is constantly changing and evolving to reach the most satisfying performance. The first models of e-cigarettes were far from providing the vaping experience that modern vape mods and kits create. Let’s have a look at how the vape anatomy has changed with the time.

  1. First Models. The first e-cigarette model is named “Ruyan” and it consists of 3 parts, which is a battery, a plastic cartridge containing a nicotine solution, and a heating element composed of an ultrasonic atomizer. The first generation is also known as cig-a-likes.
  2. Pen-Style Vaporizers. The 2nd generation products are larger than their predecessors. They are known as pen-style devices.
  3. Cartomizers. In 2007 Umer and Tariq Sheikh invented the cartomizer. The design is widely adopted these days.
  4. Mods & APVs (Advanced Personal Vaporizers). People are looking for a new model with larger battery, better performance or even a more attractive appearance. And here the concept of the third generation appears - “mods” or advanced personal vaporizers, which simply represents “modifying the e-cigarette”.
  5. Clearomizers. In 2009, a new design named clearomizer is invented. This component contains a wicking material, a transparent e-liquid chamber, and an atomizer coil, which allows users to monitor the remaining juice. Soon after its invention, the atomizer coil of clearomizer is designed to be replaceable so that one can replace the atomizer coil only without replacing the whole tank.
  6. Sub-Ohm Mods. These devices are the most cutting-edge technology currently available. They provide immense vapor clouds and lots of vapers prefer sub-ohm for this feature.
  7. Pod System Era. Pods are all-in-one devices, which are easy to use, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and good for stealth vaping. They come with pre-filled or refillable cartridges of e-liquid that you just snap into place. The nicotine strength can be also regulated as with ordinary vape devices and e-juices. You can choose with or without nicotine. Pod system kits are especially good with nic salts.
  8. Juul Vaporizers. They are small e-cigarettes with USB-drive design. Juul uses a closed system, which means users can't refill the pods themselves, a helpful factor for quality control. Thus Juul comes with pre-filled cartridges / pods.
  9. Vape Watch. This is totally new, 2-in-1 product on the market produced by vape giant brand Uwell. This is a pod-style vape with a watch for a carrying case. You pull it out of the watch housing whenever you want to vape on it. The touch screen will display the time, just like a traditional watch and it will fire at up to 10W.


As it stands today, the vaping industry won’t stop to evolve. Yesterday the vape watch was a big wow, but it’s hard to imagine what models, features and designs may hit the market even tomorrow. Vape devices will likely have more a compact size, be more efficient, safer, more user-friendly, and easier to adjust to match a user’s needs and desires. Time will tell!

Do you know any interesting facts regarding the evolution of vaping? Share your knowledge with us.


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About the author
Julie Korman

Development manager

Julie has over 7 years of experience writing hundreds of reports, articles, and e-books in diverse fields. Since 2016 she has been studying the vape industry and has written tons of articles dedicated to various aspects of vaping. Julie is able to see the big picture in a piece of writing as well as being diligent about the details. For over a year Julie is an official writer and editor on Vawoo Vape Marketplace. She is a writer who clearly understands the practical and emotional challenges of putting down word after word after word.
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