The concept of lean manufacturing goes back to the year 1900 when Frederick Taylor set up the system of motion study and standardization of work processes. That was the time you could say that the foundation of modern lean was put in place. Later on, in the 1920s — 1930s, Henry Ford used the concept of lean in car assembly. Later on, from 1950 to 1960 the Japanese invented a lot of concepts related to lean. Numerous concepts, which you will see today, as a part of the Toyota Manufacturing System were invented during that period.
In the year 2000, James Womack wrote a book The Machine That Changed the World, and that introduced the lean concept to the Western world.