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Hiram Maxim

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Hiram Maxim was an American-born inventor who was born in Sangersville Maine on February 5 of 1840, and immigrated to the United Kingdom at the age of 41 he retained his American citizenship until 1900 when he became a nationalized British subject. He was knighted by Victoria in 1901, but Edward VII actually presided due to the death of Victoria.

At the age of 14 Hiram Maxim became an apprentice coachbuilder with his uncle in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He became well-known as an engineer taking out several patents which included electric lamps and gas appliances. In 1881 he attended the Paris Electrical Exhibition where he met a man who told them if you wanted to make a lot of money you need to invent something that the Europeans could use to cut each other's throats. At this time, maxim was designing Ferris Wheels and building them all over Europe. This led Hiram Maxim to move to London where he created a most effective weapon known as the machine – gun. This weapon was gas recoil operated, and its practical rate of fire under combat was 300 RPM. He also invented cordite powder, a stick smokeless powder, that increased the rate of fire and length of operation without cleaning. He put a demonstration of this gun to the British Army in 1885, this gun was capable of ejecting a spent cartridge replacing it immediately, with the next bullet an entire belt could be used up immediately thus making this the first automatic portable machine-gun in history. This amazing weapon was able to fire 600 rounds in about a minute giving it the firepower of some one hundred rifles.

The British Army adopted Hiram Maxim's machine gun in 1889 in 1890 his machine gun was purchased by the Russian, Swiss, German, Austrian, and Italian armies. During the Matabele war of 1893 – 9450 soldiers were able to kill about 5000 of the 82,000 Matabele soldiers with four Maxim machine guns. The Maxim machine gun was an inspiration that led to the invention of the Russian Pulemyot and the German Mashinegewehr.

Also to his credit are the gun silencer, pneumatic gun, hair curling irons, steam pumps, a smokeless gunpowder, the mousetrap, a flying machine, ( " the captive flying machine" an amusement ride), and carbon filaments that led to the invention of the light bulb.

Hiram Maxim passed away on November 24, 1916 in London, four months before the Battle of the Somme where over one million soldiers died in four months of machine gun warfare. He was survived by three children and possibly a fourth illegitimate daughter.

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