Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim, American engineer and inventor, c 1900.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Whilst resident in America, Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim (1840-1916) took out patents for, among other things, gas apparatus and electric lamps. In 1881, he emigrated to England where he perfected his 'Maxim' machine-gun in 1883. He also invented a pneumatic gun, a smokeles powder, a mousetrap, carbon filaments for light bulbs and, in 1894, a flying machine which had two huge propellors, a wingspan of 104 feet (31.7 metres) and weighed 8,000 pounds (3.63 tonnes).