Intel history pages. Penang plant fire

    In 1972, Intel launched its first factory outside the United States - on an area of ​​2 hectares in Penang, Malaysia housed its assembly facility. The fire that destroyed the plant on May 1, 1975, became the largest technological catastrophe in the history of Intel, which happened, moreover, at that moment, when the young company was still on its feet.

    The author of the idea of ​​industrial expansion of Intel outside the United States was one of the founding fathers of the company Andy Grove. The choice fell on Southeast Asia, or more precisely Malaysia, where the convenient geographical location, state support and labor surplus were combined happily. Penang - an island in the Strait of Malacca, known for its nature and species; It is not by chance that it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was there, in the middle of the former rice field, that the new plant was built and put into operation in the shortest possible time, which began to grow rapidly: initially the staff was only 100 people, and by 1975 the number of employees was almost a thousand. But disaster struck.

    Around 9 am on May 1, 1975, flames burst from the assembly shop of the plant - the ignition was apparently caused by a short circuit in the electric lighting network. An hour later, as factory manager Ken Thompson (Ken Thompson) recalls, the factory’s cafe remained the only surviving building. Everything else burned to the ground. The flames were so strong that they destroyed even the steel frame of the buildings. Fortunately, the day was non-working and human victims were avoided. But the damage was enormous, almost $ 2.5 million - more than Intel had invested in the plant three years earlier. And, of course, the company's contractual obligations were disrupted.

    The campaign to restore the plant in Penang entered the history of Intel as an example of the emergency labor achievement of its employees. Thompson made T-shirts for them with the words “Intel is still working” (“Intel is working” was the company's slogan at the time). It was decided to resume production as soon as possible using any more or less suitable premises.

    “Ken and his team worked 22 hours a day — it all looked like martial law,” says Gene Flath, the plant’s production director. Throughout the restoration phase, the Malaysian conveyor workers were paid full wages, including those who went home at all before the call.

    1978 year. Gordon Moore and the workers of the Penang plant near the memorial sign dedicated to the restoration of the plant

    Intel continued to work, despite the circumstances. At other factories nearby, the second and night shifts were bought, a factory cafe was given to the shop - the only surviving building. At some point, the production was carried out immediately on 5 sites - do not ask how you managed to adjust this logistics of the state of emergency.

    In early 1976, production at the restored plant in Penang was restarted. Thompson calls it "a monument to the dedication and ingenuity of Intel employees" - all the work on rebuilding the plant from the ruins took less than a year. Recalling the events of 1975, one of the employees of Thompson, Pin Yong Lai (Pin Yong Lai) said: "We did not ask for additional powers, but simply took them over."

    Scheme of the modern Intel complex in Penang

    In subsequent years, the size and significance of the plant in Penang only increased. A testing line and a development department were added to the assembly line, and the number of employees increased several times. The complex includes 10 buildings for various purposes; You can view its interactive map and photos on the Explore Intel website . Pay attention, by the way, to the value that Intel places on environmental aspects - the “pearl of the East” (as Penang is called) should not suffer from human activity.

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