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Panasonic founder Konosuke Matsushita was born on November 27, 1894 in Wasamura, a village south of Osaka that is now part of Wakayama City, the youngest child in a family of five daughters and three sons. His first years were happy and carefree, but Konosuke's father lost the family property in speculations on the rice exchange when Konosuke was four, and left for Osaka three years later in search of work.
When Konosuke was nine, months before he was to graduate from elementary school, his father sent for him, apprenticing Konosuke first to the Miyata Hibachi Store, then later to the Godai Bicycle Store, where his employer was impressed by his natural aptitude and keen interest in business. Konosuke continued to study independently while looking after the store, and his apprenticeship taught him much about the world of business.
Watching the streetcars that had been in Osaka for some time, Konosuke decided that his future lay in the electrical business. At 15,he left the bicycle shop for a post in the Osaka Electric Light Company. Five years later, he married 19-year-old Mumeno lue. The young Matsushita was a hard worker, and 22 he had risen to the post of inspector.
Around that time he designed an improved light socket and built a sample. His supervisor, however, told him that it was useless and that nothing would ever come of it.
Constant poor health convinced Matsushita to leave the company to start his own business. In June 1917, Matsushita, his wife and his brother-in-law, Toshio lue, who later founded Sanyo Electric, set up shop in a tiny two-room tenement in eastern Osaka. They eventually produced the new socket, but sales were next to nil, and Mumeno had to pawn the family's few valuables to purchase necessities. However, Matsushita had high hopes for the future and continued to devise new and better products. Towards the end of the year, Matsushita received an order from , large manufacturer to produce insulation plates for electric fans. He worked quickly and carefully to fill the order. Repeat orders followed, giving him the capital he needed to put his socket and other wiring fixtures into mass production.
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