This is Intel’s 40th year in Malaysia. In 1972, Intel opened the company’s first international manufacturing facility, an assembly plant in Penang. Since then, the company has expanded its presence in the country and now also operates facilities in Kulim and Kuala Lumpur.
Intel invested $1.6 million to start its first offshore assembly plant in Penang in 1972. The factory, built in a muddy paddy field, later burned down. Intel Vice President and Oregon Site Manager Keith Thomson, who joined Intel in 1969, recalls that Intel was in production the next day at a nearby facility owned by National Semiconductor.
From left: Thomson, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, former chief minister of Penang, Andy Grove, who later became president and CEO of Intel, and Lou Ross, who served as CEO of Intel Malaysia, at a meeting in Penang in 1972.
On a visit to the Penang plant, the car Grove and Thomson were riding in became mired in deep mud created by a monsoon. The two men walked the rest of the way and workers from the plant lifted the car from the mud and pushed it to solid ground.
When the Penang plant opened, the workforce consisted of 100 batik-clad employees — the batik was created specifically for the Intel workers. Thomson recalls that at the time employees were promised transportation, a hot meal and uniform. The workers were predominantly women, here seen working at bonding stations, because they often performed better on dexterity tests.
In 1978 then-Intel President Gordon Moore (at center in dark blue shirt) visited Malaysia for the groundbreaking ceremony of another Penang facility.
The author of Moore’s Law took a turn mortaring the foundation. Today, the Intel Penang campus has 10 buildings, including one of Intel’s largest assembly and test sites and a design and development center.
This content was originally published on the Intel Free Press website.