From Ajinomoto World: “‘Aji-no moto’ [lit. ‘essence of taste’] history can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century. Research on seaweed began toward the end of the 19th century, with the production of iodine from seaweed, by Suzuki Naka at a facility in Hayama.
“In 1907, Naka’s son, Saburosuke, established the S. Suzuki Pharmaceutical Company in Zushi, south of Tokyo. It was, there, in 1907, that Professor Ikeda, a chemist at the University of Tokyo, first isolated glutamate from a broth of dried konbu [kelp]. Ikeda found that the most important compound within seaweed broth was actually a glutamatic acid, which he identified with the taste umami (meaning ‘pleasant taste’ or ‘savoriness’).
“In July 1908, Ikeda received the patent for monosodium glutamate (MSG). The additive was given the trade-name Ajinomoto, and was first marketed in Japan in 1909. A larger manufacturing plant, in Kawasaki, was completed in 1914, and the company began its overseas expansion in 1917 with the opening of an office in New York City. The company received its current name, Ajinomoto Co. Inc., in 1946.”