Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Radio Shack Finally Accepts the Inevitable

I haven't been in a Radio Shack in years. The last time I went in was when I was looking for a pre-amp to connect a turntable to a new stereo home entertainment amplifier. The cabinets and drawers full of small parts like transistors, diodes, and resistors were gone. The clerk was fully prepared to sell me a new phone and there was a nice selection of batteries in blister packages.

I left empty handed, ordered what I needed online, and promised myself I would not ever waste time at a Radio Shack again.

But once, long ago, boys and girls, in a country called America, there was a business called Radio Shack. Here's the catalog from 1945.

They branched out and made an industrial catalog for a while. Here's what they were selling in 1965.

When was the last time I could have walked into a Radio Shack and got a silicon controlled rectifier? How about a 10 amp power relay? A assorted box of resistors in various values and power ratings?

Radio Shack has been gone for a long time.


WoFat said...

In 1965 Radio Shack was great. Now - they ain't got what you want. So the doors close.

zuk said...

Actually, you could buy all that stuff in current radio shack stores. The parts drawers are there, in the very back. In addition, there is a section devoted to the "maker" movement, with arduinos, shields, razzberry pi, and beginner tool kits. They resell kits from ladyada and others too.

You can still buy radio and tv antennas, cable, audio parts, and scanners. You just have to walk all the way to the last 15 feet of the store.

I agree that there was a period where all those things disappeared, and I spent a long time NOT going to RS (except as a forlorn hope to find the one last thing I needed to complete a project in a strange city.)

They chose to become a phone store, and concentrate on that and selling RC toys at Christmas. But along the way, they added back some of the good stuff.

The PERCEPTION that all that stuff is gone still exists, and it doesn't help them at all.

And of course, we now have alternatives like online ordering from digikey, etc, or ebay.

So, yeah, they lost their way, and they've failed to capitalize on the maker movement, and there is no way a store can compete with kiosks in the mall selling phones, but I'll miss them for the occasional part, adapter, cable, or battery.


Anonymous said...


This may be true (last time I wandered through my local Radio Shack they had some, of those things), but the fact is that catering to the Maker market was too little too late.

Old Windways

Ted said...


That can't be good....... now where am I going to get the parts my treasured TRS-80

Rev. Paul said...

I liked Lafayette Radio Electronics even better, but they went out of business in the early '80s. In fact, they were going away in the early '70s, but hung around with only a few stores for another decade.

And they had the coolest gadgets.

B said...

I used to work for them. They *ACTIVELY* discouraged the managers from hiring people with any knowledge, focusing on SALES rather than helpful clerks.

They have been dying for 30 years, they just recently realized it.

Tony Tsquared said...

They lost me when they stopped selling components and breadboards

Sherm said...

They have a store a couple a couple of miles from my office so when I needed a computer power supply, right now, they got my business. They had one in stock. Last week when I needed a power supply I knew their one did not have enough oomph so someone else got my business.
A lot of people making that same decision means no business.

zuk said...

@Ted, I have TWO trash 80s, a model I and a Model 100, the first TRUE notebook computer!

The model I has 4K of ram, and a 1024bit chip soldered in that allows display of lower case letters.

To get sound effects in your games, you would put a radio near it, tune between stations, and listen to the timing loops....

And there WERE games, even graphical ones like Missile Command, IN 4K!

Oh, and bulk storage was on cassette tapes.

The model 100 had a barcode reader port. Instead of typing your program in from a magazine, you would (in theory) scan it in with a barcode wand. Because MOST programs were distributed in printed form in magazines! It was a very advanced machine, having a built in basic interpreter, a 300 baud modem, and a port to attach a printer. It ran quite well on AA batteries too. They were in use quite late with small community newspapers, as reporters could sit in school board meetings, typing their article, and then upload it to the paper. Kind of like some current authors using AlphaSmart machines to write distraction free...

Ah good times.

You are in a dark room. There is a lamp.

?> light lamp.

You see a treasure chest.



Bill Matthey said...

The RS in my town moved from where they had been for 20 years to another building that had higher traffic...it lasted there about one year and then closed it's doors.

Jason said...

Wow! You could buy a Simpson 260 for $32.59 in 1945. They are $345 in Grainger now. Pity few techs know the joys of an analog meter anymore.

Roy said...

I still have a Simpson 260 that dates from the sixties. It still works great though it hasn't been calibrated in a very long time. It uses a single "D" cell for the ohm meter.

I'm actually sorry to see Radio Shack go. They are a shadow of their former self, but still, it was a convenient place to get certain items such as stereo cables or adapters.