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Maxim

Maxim (măkˈsĭm) [key], name of a family of inventors and munition makers. Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, 1840–1916, was born near Sangerville, Maine. After launching on a career of inventing, he moved to England and there invented (1884) the Maxim machine gun. Among his numerous other inventions were a smokeless powder, a delayed-action fuse, and an airplane. His arms company was consolidated (1896) with the Vickers firm. He became a British subject in 1900 and was knighted in 1901. His brother, Hudson Maxim, 1853–1927, was born in Orneville, Maine, and remained in the United States. A chemist, he developed numerous inventions, including a high explosive (maximite), smokeless powders (one of them stabilite), and a self-combustive compound to propel torpedoes (motorite). Hiram Percy Maxim, 1869–1936, son of Sir Hiram, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and remained in the United States. After graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he held many positions as a mechanical engineer and created several inventions, among them an automobile. The most spectacular was the Maxim silencer for explosive weapons (1908), but perhaps more useful were silencers for gasoline engines and the like.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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