Elijah McCoy is a very interesting man. He was born in Canada on May 2, 1844. When
he was old enough, Elijah went to Scotland to study machinery and engineering. After
that, he came to the United States and moved to Detroit. Since he was black, the only job
he could get was as a machinist, even though he was a very good student and had a
wonderful education. While tending the machines in a mill, he watched as the "grease
monkeys" crawled around on the machines oiling and lubricating them. Some of these
young boys would be seriously injured or killed, but it was the only way the machines
could be oiled without turning them off. Elijah designed a cup that would slowly release
oil into the machinery and allowed machines to remain in motion whilst being oiled.
Soon every mill, factory and machine shop wanted one of Elijah's clever lubricators.
Elijah started his own company and during his life invented and sold 57 different kinds of
devices and machine parts including an ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. Soon, other
companies began copying Elijah's devices. These never worked as well at Elijah's so
people would say, "I want a lubricator, and make sure it's a real McCoy." That's where
the term "the real McCoy" began.
1. Where did Elijah McCoy go to get an education?
2. What kind of work did he do to earn his living?
3. What problem did he observe on this job that needed correcting?
4. Should people find solutions to problems like Mr. McCoy observed?
5. What did Elijah McCoy do about these problems?
6. How many patents did Elijah McCoy have?
7. Why did people want to buy only "the real McCoy"?