April 22, 1870 – Mitsubishi gets its start

On this day in 1870 Mitsubishi Group was founded by Yataro Iwasaki when he started a shipping company with three aging steam ships. The steamship company became the first Japanese company to offer overseas mail delivery to China. Over the next few years competition heated up on the seas, including with government rivals, but Mitsubishi was playing several other fields ashore during this time, including mining copper and coal, as well as ship building. In 1893 Yataro’s son Hisaya, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, became president of the company. He set up different divisions within the company, including banking, real estate, marketing and so forth. Fast forward to 1917 to see the first production Mitsubishi automobile, which was also Japan’s first series production car. It was called the Mitsubishi Model A. During the same time and in the following years the company was producing airplanes, tanks, buses, as well as a separate division that produced electrical equipment and home appliances. The company would continue to produce heavy machinery through WWII. However, at the end of the war the many separate businesses under the Mitsubishi name disbanded under pressure from occupying forces. In 1954 more than 100 individual companies that had once been part of Mitsubishi combined together to re-establish the Mitsubishi Corporation, this didn’t include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, responsible for the production of automobiles and other vehicles. However, 10 years later it too would be reborn. Today the Mitsubishi Group is made up of about 40 individual companies, with no parent company. Pictured is a 1917 Mitsubishi Model A

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