Google honors the Black inventor who likely inspired the phrase "the real McCoy

Pull up Google on Monday, and you'll see a doodle of a Black man next to a stack of patents, gazing at an old-fashioned train.

That's Elijah McCoy, the revolutionary Black inventor who was born 178 years ago today.

McCoy's parents escaped slavery in Kentucky on the Underground Railroad

and settled in Canada, where they gave birth to their son in 1844.

At age 15, McCoy traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to study mechanical engineering. But when he returned

home to his family – now living in Ypsilanti, Mich. – he couldn't find a job as an engineer because of his race, according to the Detroit Historical

Instead, McCoy went to work as a fireman for the Michigan Central Railroad, where part of his job was to lubricate engine components.

At that time, engines had to be stopped and lubricated before they could be restarted, the National Inventors Hall of Fame said, which was an inefficient process.

That's when McCoy had his big idea: an automatic lubricator that kept engines oiled while they were in operation.