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Hiram S. Maxim
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Inventor
    (February 5, 1840-November 24, 1916)
    Born in Sangerville, Maine
    Invented the maxim gun, the first portable, fully automatic machine gun (1885)
    Became a British citizen (1899)
    Knighted (1901)
    He was inspired to invent the maxim gun when a friend said, 'If you want to make a pile of money, invent something that will enable these Europeans to cut each others' throats with greater facility.'
    Before experimenting with the gun in his garden, he ran a newspaper announcement warning neighbors to keep their windows open to avoid broken glass.
    While demonstrating the gun for Britain's royal family, he blasted the initials VR (for Victoria Regina) into the target.
    He was an atheist, but claimed to be Protestant so he could enter Russia to sell guns to the tsar's army.
    He tried to invent an airplane, but his design was aerodynamically unstable and uncontrollable.
    He also invented a mousetrap, an inhaler for bronchitis, a curling iron and various steam, oil and gas engines.
    He installed the first electric lights in New York City, at the Equitable Building on Broadway.
    To popularize the notion of flight he built Captive Flying Machine rides for British amusement parks; the one at Blackpool, built in 1904, is Europe's oldest operating amusement ride.
    He went deaf from years of exposure to the noise of his guns.
    His son Hiram P. Maxim invented the firearm silencer, albeit several years too late to save his dad's hearing.

Credit: C. Fishel


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