We report on the discovery of SN 2014J in the nearby galaxy M82. Given its proximity, it offers the best opportunity to date to study a thermonuclear supernova (SN) over a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Optical, near-IR, and mid-IR observations on the rising light curve, orchestrated by the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory, show that SN 2014J is a spectroscopically normal Type Ia supernova (SN Ia), albeit exhibiting high-velocity features in its spectrum and heavily reddened by dust in the host galaxy. Our earliest detections start just hours after the fitted time of explosion. We use high-resolution optical spectroscopy to analyze the dense intervening material and do not detect any evolution in the resolved absorption features during the light curve rise. Similar to other highly reddened SNe Ia, a low value of total- to-selective extinction, R$_V$ <åisebox-0.5ex 2, provides the best match to our observations. We also study pre-explosion optical and near-IR images from Hubble Space Telescope with special emphasis on the sources nearest to the SN location.