there is "archeological and anthropological evidence of water pipes being used thousands of years in Africa and Asia." And, in fact, the word bong is derived from the Thai word r baung, which refers to a cylindrical wooden tube or pipe cut from bamboo.
But what Tower did use glass making techniques established by his mentor, the legendary Bob Snodgrass, to fashion the world's fast all glass bong fused from a single piece of glass. It's a remarkable piece of history. And it should have made Tower a rich man. As the Stranger piece details:
It may be easy to write off an innovation in something as seemingly trivial as a piece of pipe paraphernalia, but it's incredibly rare for any artist's hand to be involved in the creation of something as universal as the modern glass bong. These things have been replicated millions of times by artists around the world. If Tower got a penny for every bong made in the world, he could buy a penthouse in Belltown, but the spread of glass water pipes only made it more difficult for Tower to make money.
Tower should have been rewarded financially for his invention. But he's damn near broke and nearly homeless. Still, he's started glowing bongs, bubblers and pipes again, so there is hope for his second act. And, despite the outcome of his story, we are all the beneficiaries of his remarkable invention. So we salute you, Cameron Tower.