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October 18, 1989updated 22 Jun 2022 11:29am


By CBR Staff Writer

Operations at many computer and semiconductor companies will be disrupted for days and in some cases weeks in the wake of the Richter scale 6.9 earthquake that struck at 5.04pm local time on Tuesday evening, killing at least 300 people.

Although there were few reports of major plant collapses, there will be continuing worry that semiconductor and disk drive clean rooms have been contaminated, and many companies will have suffered serious disruption to their computer systems.

IBM, which manufactures its big disk drives at a building that is a landmark in south San Jose, reported only minor damage to its buildings in the San Francisco area, but said it was too early to tell whether operations would be disrupted; on Tuesday, chairman John Akers had told Reuters only that he hoped the 3390 drive would be coming out soon, but the quake will have done nothing to speed the process.

Santa Cruz Operation Inc, based in Santa Cruz, eight miles from the epicentre of the earthquake, where fierce fires were raging in the city, reports no injury to employees, but ceilings were down in its buildings and all its computers and phone lines were down – and it was only able to talk to the outside world by mobile phone.

Hewlett-Packard Co in Cupertino reports some structural damage but with the worry that there would be after-shocks, it said that its first priority had been to transfer the mission-critical data on which its worldwide operations depend out of California and over to Geneva, Switzerland. It says that many of its buildings in the Palo Alto area will likely have to close for some time for cleaning.

Chips & Technologies Inc in San Jose says that its building is in pretty good shape.

MIPS Computer Systems Inc in Sunnyvale, reported that MIPS is still standing and saw no serious damage.

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Apple Computer Inc in Cupertino was closed yesterday while the company assessed structural damage, and didn’t know when it would reopen. It had not heard from its San Francisco office, but the main damage was from water from sprinkler systems set off by the quake.

Intel Corp, making the 80486, 80386 and 80860 in Santa Clara said there had been no damage to its buildings, and Advanced Micro Devices in Sunnyvale reported little more than plaster off the walls.

LSI Logic Corp in Milpitas reported little damage, and Pyramid Technology, Mountain View – between San Jose and Palo Alto reported its only disaster a smashed fish tank and the demise of its tropical fish.

National Semiconductor, Santa Clara cancelled its 6am to 3pm day shift to check out its building, but was expecting the second shift to operate as normal.

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