Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim (February 5, 1840 – November 24, 1916) was an American-born inventor who emigrated to England at the age of forty-one and adopted British citizenship. He was the inventor of the Maxim Gun – the first portable, fully automatic machine gun – and the ubiquitous mousetrap. He laid a claim to inventing the lightbulb, and even experimented with powered flight, but his large aircraft designs were never successful. However, his "Captive Flying Machine" amusement ride, designed as a means by which to fund his research while generating public interest in flight, was highly successful.
Maxim was born in Sangerville, Maine in the United States. He became an apprentice coachbuilder at the age of 14 and ten years later took up a job at the machine works of his uncle, Levi Stephens, at Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He subsequently worked as an instrument maker and as a draughtsman.
His brother, Hudson Maxim, was also a military inventor, specializing in explosives.