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Mark E. Dean
Patricia Bath
Carlton L. Gyles
Issa Odidi
Joseph E. Dadson
Juliet M. Daniel
Warren Salmon
Jude Igwemezie
Charles Drew
William Peyton Hubbard
Elijah McCoy
Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy, was born on May 2, 1843 (or 1844, depending on the source).

He attended public school until the age of 15. His parents were able to save enough money to send Elijah to school in Edinburgh, Scotland to learn mechanical engineering in 1859/1860.

Elijah returned to Canada after the Civil War was over, living with his family for about a year before moving to Ypsilanti Michigan.

The management of the Michigan Central Railroad could not imagine that a Negro could be an engineer, but did hire him as a train fireman/oilman. He had to stoke the boiler and lubricate the steam cylinders and sliding parts of the train.

One of the problems of hot, high pressure steam is that it is murderously corrosive of most metals, and a thin film of lubrication is required to protect and seal the steam cylinders and pistons.

In 1872 Elijah patented (U.S. Patents 129,843, which was issued on July 12, 1872) his first invention: a self-regulating lubricator that utilized the steam pressure in the cylinders to operate the valve.

Within ten years, his device was so successful that buyers of steam trains and steam engines used in mines and factories would ask if the lubrication systems were the "Real McCoy".

In 1882 Elijah moved to Detroit, Michigan. He performed consulting work for local firms and worked on his own inventions.

Over the course of his life he was granted fifty-two patents, most of which were for improvements in steam engines, although he did patent a folding ironing board and self propelled lawn sprinkler.

In 1916 he patented what he described as his greatest invention, the "graphite lubricator", which used powdered graphite suspended in oil to lubricate cylinders of "superheater" train engines.

He finally established his own company in 1920 - the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company. Elijah used up his money trying to perfect his inventions. He was broke and alone when he was admitted to Eliose Infirmary in 1928. He died a year later.

Whatever the reason, we still know that when we want the best, we ask for the "Real McCoy".