Fascinating Facts About Hiram Maxim

Fascinating Facts About Hiram Maxim

My son happened to mention that the same man who invented the first automatic machine gun also invented curling irons and mouse traps. Of course, I had to investigate since the three items are far removed from each other. Plus, oddly enough, I had never heard of him. I don’t recall one time in history class when his name was ever mentioned. But he’s pretty fascinating, so I’m going to share.

Hiram Maxim was born Feb. 5, 1840, in Sangerville, Maine. At 14 years of age, he became a coachbuilder. When he was 24, he worked in his uncle Levi Stephens’ machine works located in Fitchburg, Mass. Throughout his young adulthood, he had numerous jobs, such as instrument maker and draughtsman. At the age of 41, he emigrated from the United States to the United Kingdom and stayed there until his death on Nov. 24, 1916, at the age of 76. He became a naturalized British subject and received a knighthood in 1901 for the machine gun he invented called the “Maxim Gun.” It changed warfare by firing 666 rounds per minute.

Another interesting fact about Maxim is that he experimented with aircraft designs. He had designed many “flying machines” but, unfortunately, none of them were successful because of design flaws. To finance his aircraft experiments, he designed an amusement ride called the “Captive Flying Machine.” He built a small version in his backyard and invited the press to see it. He built a bigger version for the Crystal Palace, and it went in circles at about a 100 miles per hour. At the time, people were thrilled to ride on it. If you want to know more about Maxim’s inventions, check out this site.

Overall, Maxim had over 20 patents. Many of them were for electric lamps and steam pumps, which is odd since he had such a fascination for flying machines. He also took credit for inventing the lightbulb. He was actually in a legal dispute with Thomas Edison. Maxim insisted the only reason Thomas Edison’s claims of inventing the lightbulb stuck was because Edison had a better understanding of patent law. Who knew? Better yet, who really invented the light bulb, Maxim or Edison? We will truly never know.

  Do you know who Hiram Maxim is?