Taiwanese CEOs: Morris Chang

By Travis Yen

Morris Chang, a Taiwanese-American businessman and electrical engineer, was born in Ningbo, China, on July 10, 1931. He is best known for starting the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), a key player in the semiconductor industry worldwide.

Chang’s family had to relocate frequently throughout China and to British Hong Kong due to the upheaval caused by World War II and the Chinese Civil War. Chang was convinced to follow a different career route by his father, a finance official and bank manager, despite his initial wish to become a novelist or journalist.

Chang relocated to the US in 1949 to enroll at Harvard University, but, by his sophomore year, he had transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1952 and 1953, he graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Chang persevered through difficulties during his doctoral studies at MIT, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in 1952 and his master’s degree in 1953. Chang’s employer at the time, Texas Instruments recognized his potential and sent him to Stanford University to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1964.

According to Forbes, Chang started his career in the semiconductor industry at Sylvania Semiconductor. Later, he moved up the ranks to become the senior vice president in charge of Texas Instruments‘ global semiconductor operations. He departed Texas Instruments in 1984 to take a position as president of General Instrument Corporation. He was hired by the Taiwanese government to head the Industrial Technology Research Institute a year later.

Chang envisioned a company that could manufacture chips and other electronic devices tailored to the specific design requirements of electronics firms. In order to respond to the increasing reliance on outsourcing as a strategy for cost reduction, he established TSMC in 1987 with assistance from the Taiwanese government. This would in turn it into one of the most successful chip companies in the world, according to The New York Times.

Morris Chang has continued to be involved in many ways both inside and outside of the tech industry after he retired from TSMC in. Even though he is no longer involved in the day-to-day management of TSMC, Chang is still regarded as a recognized mentor and advisor to aspiring executives and entrepreneurs. He spends time on charitable endeavors outside of his work, especially in the areas of healthcare and education. Beyond his revolutionary work at TSMC, Chang left an enduring impression on the semiconductor industry and the wider field of technical innovation.

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