Doesn't matter to me. I love my Smokin-It smokers (Model 1 and 2), and believe they are the best "bang for the buck" out there! Apparently, no one company has bothered to patent any of their designs, so they're fair game! I'm sure the owners of all the companies we're talking about copy a thing or two from each other..."Hey, they have better casters!," or "Hey, they have 2 handles, and we only have one!" You get the picture. The bottom line is a). What's the quality of the build when you receive the smoker? b). How good does it work? c). How does the company treat you with tech support, parts, warranty, etc.?
You get the picture. They're all great products to their respective owners/customers, I'm sure. There are those that will "only" own a xyz-brand smoker (insert name here), and are not open-minded enough to consider anything else. Then, there are those that have an opinion on every smoker, even though they own none of them. So, just like those of us who took a chance on a young company, and pulled the trigger on a Smokin-It, everyone has to make up their own minds. The size of the the SI section on this forum, and the incredible growth of the company forum, speaks volumes about SI.
Like I said, doesn't matter who was first. All I know is I'm a loyal "lifer" for SI.