He could have made a fortune

1 Comment
2014-03-28 16:27:51

History is filled with tales about inventors who discovered something but failed to make any money. That could be for any number of reasons.


  • The invention didn’t work
  • The invention didn’t have a future
  • The inventor failed to take out a patent


The e-ciggy today is used by millions of smokers around the world. But all this is recent history. The electronic cigarette was only seriously developed in the early years of the 21st century. But hang on, that’s not strictly true.


You see way back in the 1960s, an average guy, an American GI came home from active service in Korea and went to work in his father’s scrap yard. The young man was Herbert Gilbert and he was no slouch. He took a degree in business studies and always fancied himself as a bit of thinker.


He was a two-pack-a-day smoker so knew a fair bit about tobacco. He knew that the fire component of ordinary cigarettes was what caused people concern. He knew that fire was fine in some cases - he remembered his grandmother’s bakery where the bread was placed in the fire of the oven but came out perfectly well, was great to eat and the smell was gorgeous. But fire in the mouth or the smoke from burnt leaves was not acceptable to many and considered dangerous by some. Why not a cigarette where no flame is involved and where no burning of leaves takes place?


Thinking outside the square


So Herbert got to thinking. Could you have a cigarette without the fire? Could you invent a cigarette where matches and a lighter were not needed? This was the question Gilbert set out to answer.


And answer it he did. In fact Herbert Gilbert literally created the first e-cigs. Just as is used today, he came up with pretty much the identical components. He used a battery as the heat source and he experimented with different types of flavored water as in today’s e-liquids. He even built several prototypes.


So what happened and why didn’t Mr. Gilbert make a vast fortune? Well talk about bad luck. He made a few models himself and you can still find the ads for them in old newspapers. But all the tools and models he developed over the years were stored in his father’s scrap yard and yes, you guessed it, the yard caught fire and everything was destroyed. Talk about bad luck.


Show me the money


Gilbert took his model around to chemical and pharmaceutical companies. No-one was interested. Well, the way some people work in business is you wait until the parent expires and then file one yourself. It was pretty easy to copy Gilbert’s design. There were no secret herbs and spices.


Maybe the tobacco companies, which in the 1960s were going through a boom in advertising, didn’t want to muddy the waters with a new product. Whatever the case, history is clear that the first e-cig were invented, created and patented by Herbert Gilbert of Pennsylvania, USA in 1963.



1 Comment
Donnie Jack
2014-03-29 23:08:19

Thank god Gilbert did so. :3 Been vaping since 2012.

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