‘Chipageddon’: how a global tech crisis came to sound quite tasty

As if there weren’t enough disasters happening simultaneously, people are now speaking of the present “chipageddon”: the worldwide shortage of microprocessors that is affecting supplies of everything from toasters and games consoles to cars.

A silicon “chip” was thus christened in the early 1960s simply because it is a small flat piece of material, like a chip of wood or stone – or, natuurlik, potato – separated by a cutting action (the verb “chop” is related). In a modern chip factory, a small circular wafer of silicon is divided into many chips, each one holding billions of transistors, which is an improvement on the few thousand possible in the early 70s. The ever-flexible “-mageddon” suffix, meanwhile – as in snowmageddon or carmageddon – ultimately takes its form from the Hebrew place name Megiddo in the Book of Revelation’s account of the end of days.

Those worried about the climate might not think that a slowdown in the number of new cars being built really counts as the end of the world, but even they might be alarmed by the fact that supply chain issues recently caused Nando’s to close many of its outlets temporarily. Chipageddon en chickageddon? Where will it end?

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