Hiram Percy Maxim

Hiram Percy Maxim

Overview
Hiram Percy Maxim was an American radio pioneer and inventor, and co-founder of the American Radio Relay League
American Radio Relay League
The American Radio Relay League is the largest membership association of amateur radio enthusiasts in the USA. ARRL is a non-profit organization, and was founded in May 1914 by Hiram Percy Maxim of Hartford, Connecticut...

 (ARRL). He originally had the amateur call signs
Call Signs
Call Signs is the third studio album by Melbourne electronica band Black Cab, released in 2009.The album evokes the atmosphere of the former totalitarian state of East Germany, set to a soundtrack of post-punk and atmospheric electronics. In an interview, the band explained the album's sound was...

 SNY, 1WH, 1ZM, (after World War I) 1AW, and later W1AW
W1AW
W1AW is both the amateur radio call sign and the primary operating station of the American Radio Relay League . This station, which is commonly called the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station, is located on the grounds of ARRL Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut. It was inspired by Maxim's 1AW...

, which is now the ARRL Headquarters club station call sign. His rotary spark-gap transmitter
Spark-gap transmitter
A spark-gap transmitter is a device for generating radio frequency electromagnetic waves using a spark gap.These devices served as the transmitters for most wireless telegraphy systems for the first three decades of radio and the first demonstrations of practical radio were carried out using them...

 "Old Betsy" has a place of honor at the ARRL Headquarters.

He was the son of Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim
Hiram Stevens Maxim
Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim was an American-born inventor who emigrated to England at the age of forty-one, although he remained an American citizen until he became a naturalized British subject in 1900. He was the inventor of the Maxim Gun – the first portable, fully automatic machine gun – and the...

, inventor of the Maxim Machine gun
Maxim gun
The Maxim gun was the first self-powered machine gun, invented by the American-born British inventor Sir Hiram Maxim in 1884. It has been called "the weapon most associated with [British] imperial conquest".-Functionality:...

. In addition, he was the nephew of Hudson Maxim
Hudson Maxim
Hudson Maxim , was a U.S. inventor and chemist who invented a variety of explosives, including smokeless gunpowder. He was the brother of Hiram Stevens Maxim, inventor of the Maxim gun and uncle of Hiram Percy Maxim, inventor of the Maxim Silencer.Maxim was a man of many talents...

, an inventor of explosives and ballistic propellants.
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Encyclopedia
Hiram Percy Maxim was an American radio pioneer and inventor, and co-founder of the American Radio Relay League
American Radio Relay League
The American Radio Relay League is the largest membership association of amateur radio enthusiasts in the USA. ARRL is a non-profit organization, and was founded in May 1914 by Hiram Percy Maxim of Hartford, Connecticut...

 (ARRL). He originally had the amateur call signs
Call Signs
Call Signs is the third studio album by Melbourne electronica band Black Cab, released in 2009.The album evokes the atmosphere of the former totalitarian state of East Germany, set to a soundtrack of post-punk and atmospheric electronics. In an interview, the band explained the album's sound was...

 SNY, 1WH, 1ZM, (after World War I) 1AW, and later W1AW
W1AW
W1AW is both the amateur radio call sign and the primary operating station of the American Radio Relay League . This station, which is commonly called the Hiram Percy Maxim Memorial Station, is located on the grounds of ARRL Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut. It was inspired by Maxim's 1AW...

, which is now the ARRL Headquarters club station call sign. His rotary spark-gap transmitter
Spark-gap transmitter
A spark-gap transmitter is a device for generating radio frequency electromagnetic waves using a spark gap.These devices served as the transmitters for most wireless telegraphy systems for the first three decades of radio and the first demonstrations of practical radio were carried out using them...

 "Old Betsy" has a place of honor at the ARRL Headquarters.

Early years


He was the son of Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim
Hiram Stevens Maxim
Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim was an American-born inventor who emigrated to England at the age of forty-one, although he remained an American citizen until he became a naturalized British subject in 1900. He was the inventor of the Maxim Gun – the first portable, fully automatic machine gun – and the...

, inventor of the Maxim Machine gun
Maxim gun
The Maxim gun was the first self-powered machine gun, invented by the American-born British inventor Sir Hiram Maxim in 1884. It has been called "the weapon most associated with [British] imperial conquest".-Functionality:...

. In addition, he was the nephew of Hudson Maxim
Hudson Maxim
Hudson Maxim , was a U.S. inventor and chemist who invented a variety of explosives, including smokeless gunpowder. He was the brother of Hiram Stevens Maxim, inventor of the Maxim gun and uncle of Hiram Percy Maxim, inventor of the Maxim Silencer.Maxim was a man of many talents...

, an inventor of explosives and ballistic propellants. He had two sisters, Florence Maxim, who married George Albert Cutter, and Adelaide Maxim, who married Eldon Joubert, Ignace Paderewski's
Ignacy Jan Paderewski
Ignacy Jan Paderewski GBE was a Polish pianist, composer, diplomat, politician, and the second Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland.-Biography:...

 piano tuner. Hiram was a mechanical engineering graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

 (then a two-year course) at age 16.

Maxim tinkered with internal combustion engines before contacting the Pope Manufacturing Company
Pope Manufacturing Company
Pope Manufacturing Company was founded by Albert Augustus Pope in Hartford, Connecticut. The company began with the introduction of the "Columbia High Wheeler" bicycle in 1878.-History:...

 about the possibility of manufacturing a gasoline-powered automobile. Albert Augustus Pope
Albert Augustus Pope
Albert Augustus Pope was a Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel who founded the Pope Manufacturing Company in 1877. -Birth:...

 hired Maxim to run his Motor Vehicle Division. In 1899, with Maxim at the controls, the Pope Columbia, a gasoline-powered automobile, won the first closed-circuit automobile race in the US at Branford, Connecticut
Branford, Connecticut
-Landmarks and attractions:Branford has six historic districts that are listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places . These include buildings in Federal, Arts and Crafts, and Queen Anne styles of architecture...

. Columbia continued to produce gasoline cars until 1913, and was also a major manufacturer of early electric automobiles and trucks.

Marriage and family


He married Josephine Hamilton, the daughter of the former Maryland Governor William T. Hamilton December 21, 1898, in Hagerstown, Maryland, and had a son, Hiram Hamilton Maxim, and a daughter, Percy Hamilton Maxim, who married John Glessner Lee, the grandson of John J. Glessner. The John J. Glessner House
John J. Glessner House
The John J. Glessner House, operated as the Glessner House Museum, is an important 19th-century residence located at 1800 S. Prairie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. It was designed in 1885-1886 by architect Henry Hobson Richardson and completed in late 1887. The property was designated a Chicago...

 designed by Henry Hobson Richardson
Henry Hobson Richardson
Henry Hobson Richardson was a prominent American architect who designed buildings in Albany, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and other cities. The style he popularized is named for him: Richardsonian Romanesque...

 is now a Chicago landmark. Percy Maxim Lee was president of the League of Women Voters
League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters is an American political organization founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt during the last meeting of the National American Woman Suffrage Association approximately six months before the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution gave women the right to vote...

 from 1950–1958, and testified in the U.S. Senate against Senator Joseph McCarthy
Joseph McCarthy
Joseph Raymond "Joe" McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957...

 in 1955.

Accomplishments


Maxim is also noted as the inventor of the "Maxim Silencer", a suppressor
Suppressor
A suppressor, sound suppressor, sound moderator, or silencer, is a device attached to or part of the barrel of a firearm which reduces the amount of noise and flash generated by firing the weapon....

 for firearms (patented in 1908) as well as of a silencer (or muffler
Muffler
A muffler is a device for reducing the amount of noise emitted by the exhaust of an internal combustion engine. A US Patent for an Exhaust muffler for engines was granted to Milton and Marshall Reeves in 1897....

) for gasoline engines.

He created the ARRL in 1914 as a response to the lack of an organized group of "relay" stations to pass messages via amateur radio. Relaying messages allowed them to travel farther than any single station's reach at the time.

Maxim wrote an amusing account of his youth in the book A Genius in the Family: Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim Through a Small Son's Eyes. This book was adapted to the screen as So Goes My Love
So Goes My Love
So Goes My Love is an American 1946 comedy film, produced by Universal Pictures. It is based on A Genius in the Family, the memoir of Hiram Percy Maxim, and focusing on the relationship between Maxim and his father, Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim.- Cast :*Don Ameche as Hiram Stephens Maxim*Bobby...

. H.P. Maxim recounted his days as an automobile pioneer in his book Horseless Carriage Days and also wrote the book Life's Place in the Cosmos, an overview of contemporary science that surmised life existed outside of earth.

His daughter, Percy Maxim Lee (1906–2002) became President of the League of Women Voters of the United States and was appointed by President Kennedy to the Consumer Advisory Council, which she later chaired. She was an advocate for debates by presidential candidates, and an opponent of the abuse from Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Death


Hiram Percy Maxim was returning to his home in Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

, in February, 1936, from a trip to California to visit the Lick Observatory
Lick Observatory
The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory, owned and operated by the University of California. It is situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose, California, USA...

. He fell ill and was taken from the train to a hospital in La Junta, Colorado
La Junta, Colorado
The City of La Junta is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Otero County, Colorado, United States. The city population was 7,568 at the U.S. Census 2000. La Junta is located on the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado east of Pueblo.-History:During...

, where he died the following day, February 17, 1936. Hiram P. Maxim was buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Hagerstown, Maryland
Hagerstown, Maryland
Hagerstown is a city in northwestern Maryland, United States. It is the county seat of Washington County, and, by many definitions, the largest city in a region known as Western Maryland. The population of Hagerstown city proper at the 2010 census was 39,662, and the population of the...

, in the Hamilton family plot belonging to his wife's family.

Patents

- Motor vehicle - Motor vehicle running gear - Electric motor vehicle - Motor road vehicle - Silent Firearm Issued March 30, 1909.

Books

  • Life's Place in the Cosmos, New York: D. Appleton, 1933.
  • A Genius in the Family, New York: Harper, 1936.
  • Horseless Carriage Days, New York: Harper, 1936.

Biography

  • Schumacher, Alice Clink, Hiram Percy Maxim, Father of Amateur Radio, Great Falls, MT: Schumachers, 1970.

External links