Elijah McCoy

inventor



About

Elijah J. McCoy (May 2, 1844  – October 10, 1929 - (aged 85)) was a Canadian-American inventor and engineer who was notable for his 57 U.S. 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.This popular expression, typically meaning the real thing, has been associated with Elijah McCoy's oil-drip cup invention. One theory is that railroad engineers looking to avoid inferior copies would request it by name, and inquire if a locomotive was fitted with "the real McCoy system".<br><br>This theory is mentioned in Elijah McCoy's biography at the National Inventors Hall of Fame. It can be traced to the December 1966 issue of Ebony in an advertisement for Old Taylor bourbon whiskey: "But the most famous legacy McCoy left his country was his name." A 1985 pamphlet printed by the Empak Publishing Company also notes the phrase's origin but does not elaborate. Other possibilities for its origin have been proposed and while it has undoubtedly been applied as an epithet to many other McCoys, its association with Elijah has become iconic and remains topical.<br><br>The expression, "The real McCoy", was first published in Canada in 1881, but the expression, "The Real McKay", can be traced to Scottish advertising in 1856. In James S. Bond's The Rise and Fall of the "Union Club": or, Boy Life in Canada, a character says, 'By jingo! yes; so it will be. It's the 'real McCoy,' as Jim Hicks says. Nobody but a devil can find us there.'