Famous Mainers – Father Of The Machine Gun – Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim
Recently, a report came out that the Pine Tree State was in the top 10 of the least innovative states in the country. However, Maine is certainly known for this creation.
At the age of 14, Maxim became an apprentice coach builder and ten years later, he took a job in a machine shop with his Uncle Levi Stephens, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
This is where he found his love for machines, and also worked as an instrument maker.
After moving up the 'corporate ladder' with a company called United States Electric Lighting Company, he made frequent trips back and forth from the U.S. to England.
Because his trips were so frequent to England, and so infrequent to the U.S., on September 16, 1899, Maxim became a naturalized British subject. In 1900, Queen Victoria bestowed a knighthood upon him.
The Invention of the 'Machine Gun'
When Maxim was a kid, he was knocked over while shooting a gun due to the strong recoil. This experience inspired him to want to create a gun that would absorb the recoil energy within the weapon, rather than taking it out on the shooter.
Between 1883 and 1885, Maxim patented recoil, gas, and blowback methods of operation.
And the rest is history.
Later on, Maxim founded an arms company, with financial backing from Edward Vickers, owner of an English steel company named, Naylor Vickers & Co. Maxim's idea was improved at that time and was called 'Vicker's Machine Gun' and the rest is history.
Maxim's invention, the machine gun, was sold and used on both sides during World War I and beyond.
Other Maxim Inventions to Mention
- The Flying Machine - a ride used at an amusement park - Earl's Court Exhibition - in 1904. The ride was devised as a test mechanism for a real flying machine he was working on. Disney has used similar models at their theme parks as well.
- Electric Lights - Maxim devised and installed some of the first electric lights in the Equitable Life Building in New York in the late 1870's. There were some patent disputes between Maxim and Thomas Edison over their claims to the lightbulb
Gun enthusiasts even held some Hiram Maxim Machine Gun Shoot & Expos in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine in the early 2000's.