Sakichi Toyoda, the “King of Japanese Inventors” and patriarch of Toyota, was born on this day in 1867 in Kosai, Shizuoka, Japan. Early in his career Toyoda invented a variety of weaving machines, including the automatic power loom, leading him to found Toyoda Automatic Loom Works. By the late 1920s Sakichi found himself supporting the plans of his son Kiichiro to develop an automobile. Unfortunately he never saw the project through to fruition, as he passed away in 1930.
Kiichiro would take over the family business, establishing an automotive division in 1933. Just two years later a protoytpe prototype was unveiled. In 1937 Toyota Motor Corporation was formed, changing the spelling as it was believed Toyota was a luckier name than Toyoda and it was easier to write in Japanese characters. Toyota borrowed a lot from Detroit automakers in its early years, including automotive design and manufacturing practices. Its first production model, the AA, was a near copy of a Chrysler Airflow (pictured).