Project Category: Black Inventors

Elijah McCoy

Elijah McCoy invented a drop-by-drop lubricating system for factory machines. Before his invention, machines had to be shut down and oiled by hand. He discovered the need for a lubricating system while working in railroad yards. Today his invention is used with automobiles, rockets, ships and other machines. Although others tried to copy his work, people demanded the original. Using a phrase that has now become part of our language, people said they wanted “the Real McCoy”

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Jan E. Matzeliger

The great variety of well-fitting shoes people wear today stem from the invention of Jan Ernst Matzeliger. His machine, The Lasting Machine, knocked shoe
manufacturers off their feet by making it possible to cut costs in half and triple the amount of shoes being manufactured. This machine was the first that could perform the steps required to manufacture a shoe and discharge it ready for wear, all within one minute. His machine is credited for doubling wages and improving working conditions for millions of people in the industry.

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