1894, "electrical device for starting an engine;" 1960, of persons (especially workers) who habitually act on their own initiative; see self- + starter. Self-starting (adj.), of motors, is attested from 1866.
word forming element indicating "oneself," also "automatic," from Old English use of self (pron.) in compounds, such as selfbana "suicide," selflice "self-love, pride, vanity, egotism," selfwill "free will." Middle English had self-witte "one's own knowledge and intelligence" (early 15c.).
OED counts 13 such compounds in Old English. Middle English Compendium lists four, counting the self-will group as a whole. It re-emerges as a living word-forming element mid-16c., "probably to a great extent by imitation or reminiscence of Greek compounds in (auto-)," and formed a great many words in the pamphlet disputes of the 17c.
c. 1400, stertour "instigator; one who starts," agent noun from start (v.). Mechanical sense is from 1875. For starters "to begin with" is 1873, American English colloquial. Starter home is from 1976; starter set is from 1946, originally of china.
<a href="https://www.etymonline.com/word/self-starter">Etymology of self-starter by etymonline</a>
Harper, D. (n.d.). Etymology of self-starter. Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved $(datetime), from https://www.etymonline.com/word/self-starter