Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling (September 12, 1818 – February 26, 1903) was an American inventor best known for his invention of the Gatling gun, the first successful machine gun.
Gatling graduated from Ohio Medical College in 1850 but was more interested in continuing his career as an inventor than in practicing medicine. By the early 1850s he was successful enough in business to offer marriage to Jemima Sanders, 19 years his junior and the daughter of a prominent Indianapolis physician. They married on 24 October 1854. Her younger sister Zerelda was married to David Wallace the governor of Indiana, whose sons from a previous marriage included Lew Wallace who would later find fame as the author of Ben Hur.
After developing and demonstrating a working prototype,in 1862 he founded the Gatling Gun Company in Indianapolis, Indiana to market the gun. The first 6 production guns were destroyed during a fire in December 1862 at the factory where they had been manufactured at Gatling's expense. Undaunted Gatling arranged for another 13 to be manufactured at the Cincinnati Type Factory. While General Benjamin F. Butler bought 12 and Admiral David Dixon Porter bought one it wasn‘t until 1866 that the US Government officially purchased Gatling guns. In 1870 he sold his patents for the Gatling gun to Colt. Gatling remained president of the Gatling Gun Company until it was fully absorbed by Colt in 1897. The hand-cranked Gatling gun was declared obsolete by the United States Army in 1911.