The Maxim gun was the first recoil operated machine gun. It was invented by Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim in 1883.
The energy from the recoil of the gun was used to eject each spent cartridge and reload. This made it vastly more efficient and less labor intensive than previous machine guns such as the Gatling gun, which used actual mechanical cranking. However, the Maxim Gun still required water cooling, which made it harder to operate and heavier, compared to most later machine guns. The Maxim was usually operated by several men. It was demonstrated in trials that the Maxim could fire 800 rounds per minute.
A prototype of the Maxim gun was first used on the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition.