Elijah J. McCoy (May 2, 1844 – October 10, 1929) was a Canadian-born inventor and engineer of African American descent who was notable for his 57 US patents, most having to do with the lubrication of steam engines. Born free in Canada, he came to the United States as a young child when his family returned in 1847, becoming a U.S. resident and citizen.
• Canadian-American inventor and engineer.
• Son of former slaves from Kentucky who escaped via Underground Railroad to Canada.
• Although a great financial sacrifice, McCoy’s parents sent him to Edinburgh, Scotland; he studied mechanical engineering.
• Noted for 57 U.S. patents, most involved the lubrication of steam engines.
• Sold many of his patents for a fraction of their worth; never capitalized on his own inventions; the devices he designed made others millionaires.
• His oil-drip cup invention was so amazing, people termed the phrase “The Real McCoy” which now refers to something authentic and of high quality.