Although the precise 'birth' of objects and concepts that resemble the modern cigarette is debatable, it is generally accepted that either Joseph Robinson's 1930 patent or Herbert A. Gilbert's 1965 patent is to blame.
The first known mention of an electronic cigarette was made by Joseph Robinson in his 1930 patent, which was submitted between the 1920s to 1960s. However, it was never produced or commercialised, and it's unknown whether Robinson's incredibly simple technology ever saw the creation of a prototype.
Herbert A. Gilbert of Pennsylvania actually invented the first smokeless, non-tobacco "cigarette" device, which was patented in 1965 but first submitted for consideration in 1963. Because Gilbert's non-tobacco cigarette heated up moist, flavorful air instead of burning paper and tobacco, many people believed it to be a safer and generally harmless way to smoke. Gilbert's patent, like Robinson's, was never used for commercial purposes.
1970s to 1990s
The e-cigarette as we know it today wasn't actually created until 1979 after another attempt. One of the original computer pioneers, Phil Ray, collaborated with his personal doctor, Normal Jacobson, to develop the first commercially available e-cigarette.
The pair conducted the first formal and acknowledged research on alternative means of nicotine administration, despite the fact that their device did not use an electronic cigarette and instead relied on nicotine evaporation. However, their delivery strategy was not promising, and it never made it to big-box stores.
Despite the failure of their invention, the pair did come up with the now-common term "vape."
2000 to 2010
Finally, we started to see the first e-cigarette that was commercially viable. After his father, a heavy smoker, passed away from lung cancer, Hon Lik, a 52-year-old pharmacist and inventor from China, came up with the idea for the e-cigarette.
Golden Dragon Holdings, the organisation Lik worked for, assisted in the development of the gadget and changed its name to Ruyan, which means "like smoke" in Chinese.
E-cigarettes were finally introduced to Europe and the United States in 2006, with the earliest import ruling dated August 22, 2006. The database for this is available on the website of US Customs and Border Protection. Unofficially referred to as an e-cigarette, the "nicotine inhaler and parts" is what the judgement refers to.
National governments and agencies started to take an interest in the e-cigarette once it was introduced in Europe and the US.