Biography of Hiram S. Maxim
Famous American Biographies





HIRAM S. MAXIM, the famous inventor, was born in Sangersville, Maine, February 5, 1840, the son of Isaac W. and Harriet B. Maxim. The town of his birth was but a small place, in the woods, on the confines of civilization, and the family endured many hardships. They were without means and entirely dependent on themselves to make out of raw materials all they needed. The mother was an expert spinner, weaver, dyer and seamstress and the father a trapper, tanner, miller, blacksmith, carpenter, mason and farmer. Amid such surroundings young Maxim gave early promise of remarkable aptitude. With the universal Yankee jackknife the products of his skill excited the wonder and interest of the locality. His parents did not encourage his latent genius but apprenticed him to a coach builder. Four years he labored at this uncongenial trade but at the end of that time he forsook it and entered a machine shop at Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Soon mastering the details of that business and that of mechanical drawing, he went to Boston as the foreman of the philosophical instrument manufactory. From thence he went to New York and with the Novelty Iron Works Shipbuilding Co. he gained experience in those trades. His inventions up to this time consisted of improvements in steam engines, and an automatic gas machine, which came into general use. In 1877 he turned his attention to electricity, and in 1878 produced an incandescent lamp, that would burn 1,000 hours. He was the first to design a process for flashing electric carbons, and the first to "standardize" carbons for electric lighting. In 1880 he visited Europe and exhibiting, at the Paris Exposition of 1881, a selfregulating machine, was decorated with, the Legion of Honor. In 1883 he returned to London as the European representative of the United States Electric Light Co. An incident of his boyhood, in which the recoil of a rifle was noticed by him, and the apparent loss of power shown, in 1881-2 prompted the invention of a gun which utilizes the recoil to automatically load and fire seven hundred and seventy shots per minute. The Maxim Nordenfelt Gun Co., with a capital of nine million dollars, grew from this. In 1883 he patented his electric training gear for large guns. And later turned his attention to flying machines, which he claimed were not an impossibility. He took out over one hundred patents for smokeless gunpowder, and for petroleum and other motors and autocycles.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.

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