Maxim, Sir Hiram (Stevens) biographical name
(born Feb. 5, 1840, Sangerville, Maine, U.S.died Nov. 24, 1916, London, Eng.) U.S.-British inventor. Son of a Maine farmer, he was apprenticed to a carriage maker. He became chief engineer of the U.S. Electric Lighting Co. (1878–81), for which he introduced carbon filaments for electric lightbulbs. At his lab in London he began working on a fully automatic machine gun; in 1884 he succeeded with a design that used the recoil of the barrel to eject the spent cartridges and reload the chamber. He also developed his own smokeless gunpowder, cordite. Soon every army was equipped with Maxim guns or adaptations. His other inventions included a hair-curling iron, a pneumatic gun, and an airplane (1894). His Maxim Gun Co. was eventually absorbed into Vickers, Ltd. His son Hiram Percy (1869–1936) invented the Maxim silencer for rifles, which he adapted to mufflers and other technologies, and designed the Columbia electric automobile.
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