In the AD&D 1st edition players handbook page 38 on the table weapon types, general data, and "TO HIT" adjustments it says speed factor, is this how many segments it takes to attack with the specified weapon? And is fire rate the same thing? So for example Hand Axe has a speed factor of 4' does this mean that a character can attack twice per melee round?
Speed factors: read DMG pp.66-67, revealed by looking up "Weapon... Speed Factors" in the index.
And no, rate of fire is completely different, it is rate of fire per turn or round as stated under the table. If a longbow has a rate of fire of 2, it can be fired twice per round.