Google is celebrating the birthday of Black Canadian-American engineer and inventor Elijah McCoy. The doodle honors McCoy, who boosted train efficiency with his locomotive and railway related inventions, with an animated steam engine train circling a portrait of the engineer.
McCoy was born in Colchester, Ontario, after his parents escaped enslavement in Kentucky via the Underground Railroad in 1837. After studying in Edinburgh, Scotland, as a mechanical engineer apprentice, he found a job working for the Michigan Central Railroad as a fireman and oiler.
While working in Michigan, he invented the oil-drip cup, which helped oil flow around a train’s engine without the crew having to stop to manually lubricate it every few miles, and received his first patent, called “Improvement in Lubricators for Steam Engines.” This invention was later applied to oil drilling and mining equipment as well as construction and factory tools, according to Google.
McCoy held 57 patents in his lifetime, including those for a lawn sprinkler and ironing board, and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio in 2001.