4. The fact is, Hon Lik is not the first person to invent the e-cigarette. Way back in 1963, Herbert Gilbert made the world's first device that could be used to inhale tobacco-flavored air. In Gilbert's original version, there was no form of combustion and it was free of nicotine. He later designed a prototype that used a battery to create heat. He also used different flavors of water to create steam. He presented his prototypes to different chemical, pharmaceutical, and tobacco companies, but they simply turned down his prototypes.