Born 1843 in Ontario, Canada
Elijah McCoy was born in Colchester, Ontario, Canada in 1843. As a young child, McCoy was interested in machines and how they worked and at the age of 16 he attended school in Scotland to learn drafting and engineering.
After graduating, McCoy moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan, but he was unable to find a job as an engineer. He accepted a job with the Michigan Central Railroad as a fireman and oilman. In 1872 McCoy invented an oil cup for lubricating steam trains and received a patent for it.
At first, because of prejudice, the railroad companies would not use McCoy’s lubricating cup. However, the train company he worked for eventually tried his lubricator. Discovering that McCoy’s invention was successful, other people tried to imitate it. Train companies soon learned however, that Elijah’s lubricator was the best and in purchasing one they asked for "the real McCoy".
Before his death in 1929 Elijah McCoy had received 57 patents for his inventions and had founded his own business called the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company.
- Great Black Heroes - Five Notable Inventors, by Wade Hudson - This book includes short well-written biographies of five little known African American inventors, including Elijah McCoy (amazon.com has it ).