Canadian-American inventor Elijah McCoy was born on this day in 1843

Raised by former slaves who had fled to Canada via the Underground Railroad, McCoy went on to patent nearly 60 inventions.

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On May 2, 1843, Elijah McCoy, a Canadian-American inventor, was born in Ontario, Canada. 

Raised by former slaves who had fled to Canada via the Underground Railroad, McCoy’s family resettled in Detroit, Michigan. At the age of 15, McCoy journeyed to Scotland to complete a mechanical engineering apprenticeship. Returning to the U.S., he faced challenges securing employment in his field, leading him to work as a fireman and oiler for the Michigan Central Railroad.

It was in this role that McCoy’s innovative mind shone through. His expertise led him to develop a revolutionary lubricator for steam engines, which automatically distributed oil to critical parts, eliminating the need for frequent stops for manual lubrication. This invention earned McCoy his first patent in 1872.

Throughout his life, McCoy patented nearly 60 inventions. He passed away in 1929 at 85 years old.


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