Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the (in)famous AK-47 assault rifle, the world's most popular firearm, died today at age 94.
The rifle, a favorite of guerrillas, insurgents, soldiers, mercenaries, rebels, et al., is renowned for its simplicity, ruggedness, and low cost.
Its name stems from "Avtomat Kalashnikov" and the year it went into production.
Here is a piece about Kalashnikov's death from the AP. Interesting that Kalashnikov wanted to be a farm machinery designer but got sidetracked by World War II and wound up designing the weapon for the Soviet Union:
"Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer," said Kalashnikov. "I always wanted to construct agricultural machinery."
Did it bother him that he designed such a weapon? From the story:
Kaslashnikov often said he felt personally untroubled by his contribution to bloodshed.
"I sleep well. It's the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence," he told The Associated Press in 2007
Did he get rich from royalties?
Over his career, he was decorated with numerous honors, including the Hero of Socialist Labor and Order of Lenin and Stalin Prize. But because his invention was never patented, he didn't get rich off royalties.
"At that time in our country patenting inventions wasn't an issue. We worked for Socialist society, for the good of the people, which I never regret," he once said.
So what's this about being a flag designer? Well, his creation is the only modern firearm to currently grace a national flag - that of Mozambique:
Adds a kind of je ne sais quoi, don't you think?
I'll close with a favorite quote that strikes too close to home:
"The optimist learns English. The pessimist learns Chinese. The realist learns Kalashnikov." - An Armenian friend