There is an ironic story that Maxim write to the Times of London about the genesis of the machine gun:
“In 1882 I was in Vienna, where I met an American whom I had known in the States. He said: ‘Hang your
chemistry and electricity! If you want to make a pile of money, invent something that will enable these Europeans to cut each other’s throats with greater facility”.
That’s exactly what he did. He developed the Maxim gun, which used recoil to expel the cartridge that had just been used and load the next cartridge. He made that pile of money and received a knighthood from Queen Victoria (although he was actually knighted by King Edward VII). All that for creating a machine of slaughter, just in time for World War I. PBS notes, “Maxim died on November 24, 1916, only days before the Battle of the Somme, where over one million soldiers fell in four months of machine gun warfare.”