On this day in economic and business history…
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) traces its history back to the end of the 19th century, but the Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) most consumers are familiar with — Toyota Motor — was founded on Aug. 28, 1937. That day, the auto-manufacturing subsidiary that began as part of Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM) Automatic Loom Works was spun off under the control of founding scion Kiichiro Toyoda.
By 1937, Toyota (its name was changed in the spinoff because the kanji symbols representing its new name had eight strokes in total — a lucky number in Japan and other Asian countries) had already manufactured several car and truck models. Kiichiro had visited American automakers several years earlier, and many of the company’s original designs closely resembled popular American models. In some cases, the first Toyota vehicles were practically interchangeable with their American counterparts, right down to the component parts! Unfortunately for the freshly established Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM), World War II would soon pressure its assembly lines into service to the Japanese military.
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM), like many other Japanese companies, was nearly destroyed by the failing war effort and the severe economic hardship that followed. In an ironic twist, the American military saved Toyota in the early 1950s by ordering thousands of vehicles for use in the Korean War. By 1957, Toyota had revived its fortunes enough to begin exporting cars to the United States; the first shipment of two vehicles arrived almost exactly 20 years after Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM)’s establishment as an independent company. Toyota’s international exports surpassed 1 million cumulative vehicles by the end of the 1960s, and the rest is automotive history.
The American Messenger Company was founded in a Seattle hotel basement on Aug. 28, 1907. It would eventually become United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS). Here is the story of its earliest days, according to James R. Warren of HistoryLink:
On August 28, 1907, 19-year-old James E. Casey … and Claude Ryan start American Messenger Service … with $100 borrowed from Ryan’s uncle, Charley Jones. They operate out of the basement of a saloon (at one time a livery stable) at 2nd Avenue and Main Street, and deliver packages and messages in Seattle by foot, bicycle, and streetcar. They convince other boys in Seattle to buy uniforms and to agree to a strict code of behavior which includes courtesy to customers and no whistling.
By Christmas 1912, the company employed 100 messengers and moved to 1602 1/2 2nd Avenue. In 1913, American Messenger merged with McCabe’s Motorcycle Delivery Service to become Merchants’ Delivery Service, and they bought their first car, a 1913 Model T Ford. In 1919, the firm expanded to San Francisco and became United Parcel Service, Inc. (NYSE:UPS). By 1930, it covered cities all over the West Coast and New York City.
Exactly one century after its creation, the former American Messenger Company had grown into a global shipping behemoth worth $79 billion. That’s an annual growth rate of 22.7% from its founders’ original $100 investment!
Broadcast is so commercial
The first paid advertisement on any broadcast medium went out on the airwaves during a radio broadcast for New York City’s WEAF station on Aug. 28, 1922. This was years before radio had firmly established itself as a mass-market method of entertainment, and true to the experimental nature of the new medium, this first advertisement bore little resemblance to the short, snappy skits most of us take for granted. According to a 1956 issue of Broadcasting Magazine:
At 5 p.m. … an announcer stepped to the microphone of WEAF New York and said:
“This afternoon the radio audience is to be addressed by Mr. [H. M.] Blackwell of the Queensborough Corp., who through arrangements made by the Griffin Radio Service will say a few words concerning Nathaniel Hawthorne and the desirability of fostering the helpful community spirit and the healthful, unconfined life that are Hawthorne’s ideals.”
Mr. Blackwell then came forward and talked for 10 minutes about the happy, healthful, unconfined advantages of Hawthorne Court, a group of “high-grade dwellings” in Jackson Heights, New York … in the spirit of Nathaniel Hawthorne, then 58 years dead, Mr. Blackwell exhorted the “city martyrs” to heed the “cry of the heart,” a voice which he described as clamoring for “more living room, more chance to unfold, more opportunity to get near Mother Nature, to play, to romp, to plant and to dig.”