It’s hard to overstate the role that this Taiwan-based semiconductor company plays in the industry. If you search for articles about it, you’ll see headlines like TSMC: The Most Important Tech Company You Never Heard Of and TSMC: how a Taiwanese chipmaker became a linchpin of the global economy.
What struck me in the NY Times article was this anecdote about Chang’s search for a job after he failed out of a Ph.D. program at MIT in 1955 (emphasis mine):
Two of the best offers arrived from Ford Motor Company and Sylvania, a lesser-known electronics firm. Ford offered Mr. Chang $479 a month for a job at its research and development center in Detroit. Though charmed by the company’s recruiters, Mr. Chang was surprised to find the offer was $1 less than the $480 a month that Sylvania offered. When he called Ford to ask for a matching offer, the recruiter, who had previously been kind, turned hostile and told him he would not get a cent more. Mr. Chang took the engineering job with Sylvania. There, he learned about transistors, the microchip’s most basic component. “That was the start of my semiconductor career,” he said. “In retrospect, it was a damn good thing.”
The course of history changed because an internal recruiter Ford refused to offer him an additional dollar a month ($11.46 in 2023 dollars) to match a competing offer!