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U.S. Army

Disillusioned by his bitter rivalry with Thomas Edison over the invention of the incandescent lightbulb, 41-year-old Maine-born inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim sailed for England in 1881, never to return to the United States. Aware that his career in electrical engineering had ended, Maxim became consumed with creating an automatic gun, inspired by the casual remark of an American friend, who said, “Hang your chemistry and electricity! If you want to make a pile of money, invent something that will enable these Europeans to cut each other’s throats with greater facility.”

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