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    Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim (5 February 1840 – 24 November 1916) was an American-born British inventor, best known as the creator of the Maxim gun, the first portable fully automatic machine gun. Maxim held patents on numerous mechanical devices such as a mousetrap, hair-curling irons, and steam pumps, and laid claim to inventing the light bulb. He also experimented with powered flight but his large aircraft designs were never successful, however, his “Captive Flying Machine” amusement ride, designed as a means by which to fund his research while generating public interest in flight, was highly successful.

    Maxim moved from the United States to the United Kingdom at the age of 41 and remained an American citizen until he became a naturalized British subject in 1899. This Maine-born inventor is said to have registered 271 patents in his lifetime, he’s probably best known for his work on the machine gun. Later, he received a knighthood in 1901.


    It’s strange to know that he also claimed to be the inventor of the light bulb. Up till now, I have heard four names that lay claims to invent the light bulb i.e. Humphry Davy, Thomas Edison, Joseph Swan and now this.


    I am sure this is confusing but I guess this would be a helpful read. This article explains how each one contributed to the invention of the light bulb that we are using today.


    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.”

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