A huge earthquake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, struck central Taiwan in the middle of the night on September 21, 1999 . The damage was devastating. Buildings collapsed, power was disrupted for weeks, an estimated 2,400 people were killed and thousands injured, and damages exceeded $14 billion. The tremors were felt worldwide, especially in the semiconductor industry.
Because Taiwan is home to more than half of the world’s semiconductor contract manufacturing, computer makers and technology companies around the world held their breath. In the days following, there was a sell-off of shares in Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Company and other companies that depended upon Taiwan’s chips for products they planned to sell during the upcoming holiday shopping season.