Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Hiram Stevens Maxim
Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim (February 4, 1840 - November 24, 1916) was the inventor of the Maxim Gun in 1884, the first portable, fully automatic machine gun. He also experimented in powered flight, but his large aircraft designs were never successful. However, his "Captive Flying Machine" amusement ride became a staple of British fairgrounds.
Maxim was born in Sangerville, Piscataquis County, Maine in the United States of America but emigrated to England. Having become a naturalized Briton, Maxim was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1901 for his inventions, many of which had military applications. Over the years he was involved in several patent disputes with Thomas Edison.
Maxim founded an armaments company to produce his machine gun in Crayford, Kent, which was later bought out by the Vickers corporation in 1896, becoming 'Vickers, Son & Maxim'. Their updated version of the design, referred to as the Vickers gun, was the standard British machine gun for many years. Variants of the Maxim gun were used extensively by all sides during the Great War.
His brother Hudson Maxim was also a military inventor, specializing in explosives.
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