Morris Chang

Chairman and chief executive officer, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company; chairman, Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association

Nationality: Chinese.

Born: July 10, 1931, in Shanghai, China.

Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BS, 1952, MS, 1953; Stanford University, PhD, 1964.

Family: Married Christine Chen; children: one.

Career: Texas Instruments, 1958–1983, several management positions, including group vice president in charge of the company's worldwide semiconductor business; General Instrument Corporation, 1984–1985, president and chief operating officer; Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, 1987–, chairman and chief executive officer.

Awards: BusinessWeek selected Dr. Chang as one of the Top 25 Managers of the Year in 1998; in 1999 he became the first recipient of the Exemplary Leadership Award of the Fabless Semiconductor Association (the award is now named after him); in 2000 he received the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Robert N. Noyce Medal.

Publications: The Autobiography of Morris C. M. Chang—Volume 1, 1998.

Address: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, No. 25, Li-Hsin Road, Science-Based Industrial Park, Hsin-Chu, Taiwan 300, ROC;

■ Morris Chang, founder and CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), distinguished himself as a global business leader and a technological innovator. After a 25-year career with Texas Instruments in the United States, he founded TSMC and pioneered the silicon foundry industry. Chang, who is regarded as the father of Taiwan's semiconductor industry, is a hero in his country. "To the Taiwanese, Chang is more than just a successful businessman and

Morris Chang. © Reuters NewMedia Inc./Corbis.
Morris Chang. ©
Reuters NewMedia Inc./Corbis

engineer…. He put Taiwan on the global technology map," Mark Carroll wrote in Electronic Engineering Times (September 18, 2000).


Chang was born in China but came to the United States with his family in 1949. While he was growing up, he wanted to be a writer, a dream his father strongly discouraged. "My father said to me, 'you will starve as a writer,'" Chang told ( Electronic Buyers' News , December 21, 1998).

Chang instead wound up in the semiconductor business in the mid-1950s. He spent more than 25 years as an executive with two American technology companies, Texas Instruments and General Instrument. At Texas Instruments he rose from engineering manager to group vice president in charge of the company's worldwide semiconductor business, and he helped groom Texas Instruments into a leader in the integrated circuit market. But when Texas Instruments asked Chang to move into its computer products division in 1984, he turned them down and instead went to General Instrument.


Only three years later Chang decided on a new venue. He was invited to head up Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute, with the aim of developing the country's semiconductor industry. Even though the job paid less than his position at General Instrument, Chang felt that the opportunity would afford him new challenges. He accepted the offer.

Once in Taiwan, Chang pioneered a new concept in chip manufacturing. At the time most companies did all of their own chip design and manufacturing. The manufacturing end was extremely expensive, while the design was very talent-intensive. Chang proposed the idea of the foundry—a factory (called a "fab," or fabrication plant) contracted out to produce silicon wafers for other chip companies. In 1987 he started the first foundry, TSMC, with $52 million in financial backing from the Taiwanese government and additional support from a Netherlands company, Philips Electronics. Thanks to government subsidies (including healthy tax breaks), an employee base made up of bright young engineers fresh from Taiwan's exemplary educational system, and the growing American demand for integrated circuits, business boomed.

By offering reasonable rates and excellent customer service, TSMC became Taiwan's number-one chip company and the world's leading semiconductor foundry. With TSMC doing the hard circuit work, its clients could concentrate on design, and an explosion of so-called fabless companies followed. The industry was in such a strong upturn that TSMC acquired the rival Worldwide Semiconductor Corporation in 2000 to keep up with the demand.


Although business was strong, 1999 was a shaky year for TSMC, literally. In September a magnitude 7.3 earthquake rocked central Taiwan, knocking out power to the company's two plants. While engineers surveyed the damage, Chang sought help from Taiwan's premier. Within 10 days his company was back up and running again.

Chang also helped his company weather a chip crash. The Internet and telecommunications collapse of 2001 hit TSMC hard. Net profits that year fell 78 percent, sales dropped by more than 20 percent, and stock prices plummeted. TSMC also faced increased competition from semiconductor manufacturers in China, Germany, Israel, and Malaysia. By 2003, however, semiconductor demand was once again up, and TSMC was on the rebound. The company dominated the foundry industry, with a solid 55 percent of market share.


As TSMC became more successful, Chang's popularity grew. He achieved what can only be described as cult status in Taiwan, his face projecting from billboard ads hawking everything from personal digital assistants to real estate.

Chang is seen as somewhat of an elder statesman at his company. He is known for his intellect, and his employees are often heard repeating his sayings. Chang's sharp mind enticed him to become an expert at the game of bridge; when in America, he was considered one of the country's 1,000 best contract bridge players.

Although Chang valued education, he believed that only innovation can sustain economic growth. In fact, innovation was a cornerstone of Chang's philosophy and shaped many of his business decisions. "We need people with innovative ideas and entrepreneurial spirit," he remarked during an interview with the Central News Agency (February 12, 2001).

Despite the volatility in the technology industry, Chang was optimistic about its future in the early 21st century. He forecasted a 10 percent annual growth rate between 2002 and 2010, and he predicted that foundries like TSMC will turn out 40 to 50 percent of all chips by 2010.

Chang is a member of the MIT Corporation and is on the advisory boards of the U.S. Stock Exchange, Stanford University, and the University of California at Berkeley.

See also entries on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd. and Texas Instruments Incorporated in International Directory of Company Histories .

sources for further information

Carroll, Morris, "Venerating a Visionary," Electronic Engineering Times , September 18, 2000, p. 34.

Chen, Sandy, "Morris Chang—Writing New Chapters in Industry, and in Transformation of Taiwan," Electronic Buyers' News , December 21, 1998, p. 46.

Edwards, Cliff, and Pete Engardio, "Taiwan: Betting Big on Chips," BusinessWeek , April 30, 2001, p. 54.

"Morris Chang, Microchip Visionary," Economist , May 19, 2001, p. 7.

"TSMC Chair Clarifies Myths of New Economy," Central News Agency, February 12, 2001.

—Stephanie Watson

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