Cannabis is a herb that has been used in the world over for centuries. Humanity shares a love for the herb, be it for its recreational, medicinal or health purposes. In places like Jamaica, it is highly regarded as a religious herb. Just as the herb serves various purposes, there are various ways through which it can be consumed, save for the oldest form of smoking. One of these different alternatives to smoking is vaping, and in this piece, we detail the evolution of the vaporizer and how it came to be as you know it today; small, portable and efficient.


The earliest traces of the history of vaping can be traced back to Egypt in the 5th century BC. This history is recorded by Herodotus in the book, “The History of Herodotus” and he cites the vaping experience of the Scythians. These people would take hemp seed and put it on red-hot stones, and the seeds would then vaporize, producing vapor which they would inhale.

India-Pakistan Border—Ancient Afghanistan

This can be traced back to around one and a half-century ago. One man in the Safavid Dynasty (Afghanistan), Irfan Sheikh, deserves a pat on the back for the invention of what is known to us as the hookah, sheesha, or waterpipe. The hookah culture was revolutionary and thus, shortly after the hookah’s invention in Afghanistan, the use of the hookah spread to India.


While many controversies are surrounding the invention of the modern-day vaporizer, there are a few notable ideas in the field of e-cigarettes. In 1927, Joseph Robinson patented the mechanical butane ignition vaporizer. Published by the USPTO after approval, this is the earliest documented form of the vaporizer in the United States. In 1960, Herbert Gilbert, a Korean veteran built the blueprint for the modern-day vaporizer under Emperor E-Cigarettes.

Later, in 1989, Dr. Lunglife got his chance with the vaporizer when he wrote a manuscript detailing the use of RadioShack parts to build a vaporization machine. He explained the relevance of the vaporizer and how it was better than smoking despite the lack of scientific evidence to back up his claims. High Times Magazine published by High Times Magazine in the same year. His process was two-step and involved in which the concentrate oils were extracted from cannabis flowers and the oil brushed onto a light bulb thread. The bulb served as the heating apparatus.

Amsterdam—Home of the Modern Day Vaporizer

Inspired by the Egyptian methods of marijuana vaporization, Eagle Bill, in 1993 invented the first publicly usable vaporizer and ten years later, the Shake and Vape. This is one of the of the most efficient vaporizers up to date, mostly favored by medicinal users. The Shake and Vape was popularized by its inventor during the 7th Cannabis Cup that happened in Amsterdam. Many users were able to experience what vaping is, and thus, the new vaping culture was born. The forced air system vaporization was discovered at this time.

Advancements in the development of vaporizers since then became mainstream. More companies began to invest in the industry, making more powerful and digital. One more prominent vaporizers that came up is the Volcano vaporizer in 1996. This vaporizer was idyllic; the only setback that prevented people from buying it was the price, which stood at $800. Fortunately, this went down when a digitized version was introduced to the market.

Today, there are e-cigarettes, vaporizer pens, the mechanical vape mod and ultimately, the desktop vaporizer. The vaporizer pen presents the user with the option of extracting HTC from marijuana without extracting the harmful substances. The e-cig vaporizes oils, herbs, or wax using a vape tank and a battery which is disposable or reusable. A vape mod is physically bigger than a vape pen and is easily customizable. It all feels very modern—so modern, in fact, that it’s easy to forget that humans were vaping centuries ago, with tools as simple as hemp seeds and red-hot stones. 

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.