My God, it’s full of chips!

Despite the title, this is not a post about Boris Johnson. Can anyone trace this story, one of my favourite tech war stories, to an original source? It’s the early days of semiconductor fabbing at Texas Instruments; the process is still a bit of an art, both in the sense of a science with more than seven variables and in the sense of something less certain than science, and for every chip that passes quality control reams are discarded. But there is a shortage of chips; TI can command silly prices for them.

So they adopt a sort of inverted lean production; run the line as fast as possible, ship the good ones, and throw away the rest. The crap, obeying Sturgeon’s law, piles up; fortunately the company is growing fast, and needs to create more parking as the workforce expands (and this being Richardson, Texas, so do their cars). The dead chips get mixed into the tarmac and spread on the new car park.

Future archaeologists will dig down, find the car park, write it off as a typical mid-20th century automotive facility…until they look at a sample with a microscope, and FREAK!

Anyway, I’m very certain of the details – car park, waste chips, Texas Instruments – but I can’t find any trace of the tale on the Web. And it is the kind of thing that grows in the Internet. Can you help, dear Lazyweb?

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