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Electronic Memories of Radio Shack

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Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Memories
Cadman-LT   12/18/2014 8:29:33 AM
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I remember taking some classes on a TRS-80. I know I had more than one of those electronics kits. The one thing that really got me though was seeing the Armatron! My best friend had one, it was really cool...for about 10 minutes.

Thanks for that Rob!

burntpuppy
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Silver
educational toys
burntpuppy   12/18/2014 8:47:08 AM
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I was 9 when I got a 160 in one electronics kit from Radio Shack. That was my start in electronics, 2 years later I built my first computer. Sad to see them go!

78RPM
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Platinum
Re: Memories
78RPM   12/18/2014 12:37:19 PM
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I loved Radio Shack in 1970 when I was in grad school. My friend and I picked up TVs that people were trashing off the curb. We fixed most of them by replacing a vacuum tube or two from Radio Shack. We sold the TVs for $20, not bad money in 1970. In 1980 some friends and I turned TRS-80s (called "Trash 80s") into cash registers and sold them to businesses. Our customers affectionately (or not) called them Trash Registers. We even got local Radio Shack stores to offer service contracts on the modified computers. The stores were a great place to buy resistors, breadboards, transformers and other components needed by the electronics hobbyist.

Sadly, Radio Shack did not keep up with the Maker era to compete with the likes of Adafruit, Sparkfun, and MakerShed. I would like to think there is still time to reinvent itself but things are looking grim.

ttemple
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Platinum
Re: Memories
ttemple   12/18/2014 12:57:54 PM
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I have a lot of fond memories of Radio Shack too.  It was surely my favorite store as a child.  I remember my grandfather letting me pick out stuff, which he would purchase for me.  I bought things that neither he nor I knew what to do with, but I was sure interested in electronics as a child.

I don't know what has happened to the hobby level electronics people.  Maybe there just aren't enough of them any more.

I started to lose interest in Radio Shack when they started getting away from actually selling components, in favor of gift type electronic items, etc.  The local store only has a few drawers full of selected components in one small aisle.

Circuitbreaker
User Rank
Iron
Re: Memories
Circuitbreaker   12/18/2014 1:50:47 PM
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In the late 60'sand through the 70's, The Shack was the place to get electronic components. There was no infrastructure for the tinkerer like there is today. The kits and educational stuff they carried were awesome and helped launch my career in electronics.

I went in a few weeks ago to buy a 70:300 ohm transformer with the old part in hand. The lone employee looked at it and confided that he had "never seen one of those before." Indeed, the entire "antenna department" resided on no more than 10 hooks. Sadly, they have morphed into just another phone store and will probably soon be history. I will miss them for sure.

78RPM
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Platinum
Re: Memories
78RPM   12/18/2014 2:11:01 PM
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@Circuitbreaker, I find that if you go into a corporate owned store the staff is much more component savy than the franchise stores.

armorris
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Platinum
Re: Memories
armorris   12/18/2014 3:59:50 PM
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This sure brings back memories. Thanks Rob!

I made heavy use of Radio Shack as a source of parts during my teens. My dad, not Radio Shack, was responsible for my interest in electronics.

I was saddened to see Radio Shack turn into a source of everyday electronic devices and products and minimize the availability of component parts. I will admit however, that parts were cheaper to buy through mail-order (and now online) then in the brick and mortar Radio Shack stores. I only bought parts in the store if I needed them quickly, or didn't need enough parts to justify the shipping costs.

I've bought parts from Digi-Key, since they were a supplier of surplus electronics. At that time, the only new thing they sold was their namesake digital keypad that hams used to make phone calls on their handie talkies.

tekochip
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Platinum
Garage Bands Too
tekochip   12/18/2014 4:00:35 PM
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Not only would I run to Radio Shack on my bicycle to pick up components, but as aspiring musicians in the Seventies we would go to Radio Shack for musical supplies.  Like everything else at Radio Shack the quality was just a little lower and the price a little higher, but it was only a bicycle ride away.

The mike stands were the same Atlas stands everybody else sold, but the clutch was just a little cheaper.  The microphones...... worked.  The cords were a little flimsy, but at our age we were snapping them off and losing them everywhere we went anyway.  The speakers were legend and we lovingly called them Beater Speakers.  Raw speakers were pretty hard to get a hold of in the days before online ordering, and if you found one locally you'd have to convince somebody's mom that a ride ito the city would be fun.  WIth Radio Shack you could just put the speaker in your bicycle basket and wobble back home.  The speakers sounded flabby, to be sure, but every local musician had one at some time.  I did find a gem that only Radio Shack had, though.  It was a midrange horn that I think was made by Utah, and they sold it for $9.99.  I used to use them in my guitar amp along with a 12" Eminence and drove two cabinets with my Bassman.  The sound was truly awe inspiring and it was my favorite rig.  Unfortunately the Brave Little Horn was a little low on power and if I ever slipped and only used one cabinet instead of two, I'd pop the driver in seconds.  In the days before amps with a Master volume, I popped many of those horns and slowly watched the price rise to $15.95.  Eventually Radio Shack replaced the horn with a Piezo that was probably great for music, but sounded terrible through a Fender Bassman.

Lastly you could buy vacuum tubes there with a Lifetime Warranty.  When you make your 6L6s bleed every time you plug in your guitar, even the best tubes would only last about a year.  I think our Radio Shack was just recycling the tubes that passed their tester, though, because near the end of their avalability only one tube out of three would work.  I swear I was getting the same ragged tube that I had just replaced the day before.

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Slot Car
tekochip   12/18/2014 4:11:03 PM
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By the way, according to the CPI inflation calculator that racetrack would now cost $178.

patb2009
User Rank
Gold
Re: Garage Bands Too
patb2009   12/18/2014 4:43:20 PM
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for those interested  google sbnation.com for radio shack eulogy  it would seem

that Radio Shack went downhill pretty badly.

 

 

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