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Elijah J. McCoy (May 2, 1844 – October 10, 1929) was an African-American inventor and engineer who was notable for his 57 U.S. patents, most to do with lubrication of steam engines.
The saying ‘the real McCoy’, meaning the real thing, has been associated with Elijah McCoy’s invention of an oil-drip cup, for which he was well known. 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”. This possible origin was mentioned in Elijah McCoy’s biography at the National Inventors Hall of Fame.