Elijah McCoy, Afro-American inventor

Elijah McCoy, Afro-American inventor

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Elijah McCoy (1844-1929), Afro-American inventor. McCoy was born in Ontario, Canada, into a community of escaped slaves. As a child, McCoy showed a keen mechanical interest and his parents saved up enough money to send him to Edinburgh in Scotland, where he studied mechanical engineering. At the end of his studies he returned to the USA but was only able to find work as a fireman/oilman on the railroads. To make his job easier, McCoy developed a 'lubricating cap' that automatically dripped oil when and where needed. It was very successful and other versions were made. However, companies would ask for 'the Real McCoy' to ensure they got the genuine article.

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