Vincent Boland: The chips are down and the whole world is facing trouble

The microchip has changed the world since its invention in the 1950s. But after Covid caused global demand to plunge, chip manufacturers are now finding it hard to keep up with a sharp spike in orders as the world starts to emerge from the virus

Scarcity is the new plenty: a shortage of microchips is slowing down many of the world’s biggest manufacturers. Picture: Bloomberg

One of the odd things about the technology industry is that the little thing that makes its products work – the microchip – has become something of an afterthought.

Since its invention in the late 1950s, the chip has changed the world as much as the invention of the aeroplane did. Yet these days it is taken for granted, while the products it enables, such as phones and laptops, grab all the attention.

Now the ...