Freethought Almanac

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February 5: Hiram Maxim (1840)

It was on this date, February 5, 1840, that English engineer and prolific inventor Sir Hiram Maxim was born in Sangersville, Maine. His first engineering work was in America, and he took out patents for such things as gas appliances and electric lamps. Maxim also invented a pneumatic gun, a smokeless gunpowder, a mousetrap, carbon filaments for light bulbs, a gun silencer and a flying machine. But while visiting the 1881 Paris Electrical Exhibition, so the story goes, a man told him, “If you wanted to make a lot of money, invent something that will enable these Europeans to cut each other’s throats with greater facility.” It may be for that reason that Maxim is best remembered for the Maxim gun…

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Originally published February 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.

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Ronald Bruce Meyer




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