Used to work for Tandy in the 80s. Overpriced for the customer but I loved working there anyway as it was just so interesting. Got to play with all the new gadgets and stuff.
The company that arose from RadioShack's 2015 bankruptcy saga could soon itself be filing for bankruptcy. General Wireless is reportedly on the brink of seeking protection from creditors and entering the liquidation process. The biz could not be reached for comment. The formal paperwork for the bankruptcy could be posted …
"We bought our Dragon 32 from the Tandy in Coventry."
That's strange; bearing in mind that the Dragon 32 was an almost-but-not-quite-compatible clone (#) of Tandy/Radio Shack's own TRS-80 Color Computer at a cheaper price (AFAIK) with a better keyboard, I'm surprised that they'd have let it compete with their own product like that.
(#) Some have argued that it might be more accurate to say the Dragon was based closely on the same Motorola reference design that the Color Computer used, rather than it being a direct ripoff of the latter. (Both machines were based around the same Motorola processor and graphics chip).
No, you can trust the original poster. Not only did the Coventry Tandy (in Corporation St if I remember right) sell Dragon computers, the staff would tell you how to mod the TRS joysticks so they'd work properly in a Dragon controller port.
If the original poster lived on Gospel Oak Road at one time, I'd like to speak with him again.
-- in the morning. I burned many a thumb back in the day, and toasted many a transistor, but even with five thumbs on each hand I managed to build a few working circuits. Alas, Radioshack has long since folded in my town, and even the larger and much more fascinating electronics shop (yclept Norvac Electric) is shuttered now.
yeah but the hot solder is less expensive from Amazon and the plethora of electronics retailers available online. If it weren't for online vendors, you'd think that they could survive off of RPi, Arduino, cheap Android phones/slabs, home stereo gear, and of course, Radio Control cars and drones. And batteries.
"Despite online vendors, you'd think they could survive off the impatience of people to finish their projects right now."
I can order something on Amazon in the evening and be guaranteed delivery the next day. I can't order anything from a physical shop in the evening because they're not open, and I'll be at work the next day so I can't even get it then. While physical retailers have their advantages, being able to get things on short notice isn't really one of them, especially for those of us who work the same 9-5 schedule as most shops.
Unless, of course, it's the day off and you're doing a rush repair job that needs a little component and you can't wait on an overnight (because then you're back at work and the spouse will get mad). When it comes to something that absolutely MUST be done by the end of the day, you can't beat brick-and-mortar places.
When it comes to something that absolutely MUST be done by the end of the day, you can't beat brick-and-mortar places.
If it's a standard resistor/capacitor/semiconductor you open one of your parts drawers and take it (or its nearest equivalent) out.
If it's some dedicated thingamajig, your local electronics store is extremely unlikely to have it in stock.
Unless you happen to be OUT and you need an EXACT match.
Or you run out of solder or flux.
Or your soldering iron dies out.
Don't expect stuff of that sort at your local Walmart or Best Buy. And the nearest dedicated electrical parts store other than RS has eclectic hours and is a half-hour drive minimum. Come to think of it, I don't even know if it's still around. Been so long.
PS. And around here, guaranteed delivery costs 10 times more than the part. Better to pay the sales tax.
yeah but the hot solder is less expensive from Amazon and the plethora of electronics retailers available online.
Hm. I'd rather not order hot solder online; it'll be solidified into a shapeless blob before it's even sent off, and all the flux will be gone.
I'll miss Radio Shack, AKA Rat Shack, AKA Radio Shank. If you only needed a couple of electronics parts or items, it was okay, but things got worse once you went down the battery aisle... if you "joined the battery club" all hope is lost. Still, things are tough all over for the local almost an electronics shop. Good old Dick Smith has fallen on hard times:
I did prefer the electronics kits that you could get at Dick Smiths. They were a bit more involved. And they never asked me for my personal information when I purchased a single item! That was the worst part of the Shack "experience;" cannot make any purchase without the creepy salesperson learning your details for no good reason.
My current local electronics shop (Fry's Electronics) is somewhat cleverly themed, nicely appointed, has a fair selection of tech trinkets including components and other hobbyist items, a web site that is almost useless and uninformative and merely serves as a fancy list, and sales staff that are just a tiny bit worse than the web site. :) Still, they carry rPi3s from time to time, so go there I must.
I can remember when Dick Smith was useful too.
Then some vulture capitalists bought it, and it turned into an expensive, poorly stocked JB-HiFi.
Just out of interest, I couldn't find anyone in my local Jcar Electronics who knows what a null modem cable is, so I imagine they are on the way out too.
The few times I've checked RPi prices at Fry's they're horribly overpriced ($45 for a nominally $35 board). I can get them for $38 from Central Computers, which makes the total cost less than on line or plus shipping...if you only want one or two. Fry's...not so much. Now if one or the other would decide to carry Pi Zeros (and/or Pi Zero Ws) at list...
Man, I miss the Barton Bros. place tucked round the back of Smithford Way in Coventry. You had to know what you wanted but if they didn't have it it was because no-one was mining the raw materials any more. My dad kept an old 405 line Echo brand TV going for years thanks to their stock of valves. Even fixed one of the first automotive alternators fitted as standard wiith rectifiers bought there (you could do that then because the rectifier pack was removable and could be opened with a bit of effort). Thirty quid repair plus labour saved by addition of two bob's worth of bits and some serious glue (probably banned in Nanny-State Britain these days on account of if you drink it in direct contraventiopn of the warnings on tgeh can, you die).
I had a Saturday job there from around '77 to '79 - i used to test valves brought in by punters and sell replacements as well as selling the original Acorn computers, disco lights and all manner of speakers.
We used to do simple soldering repairs round the back at next to nothing prices.
I remember the old spiral staircase to the upstairs stock room where Mrs B made the coffee and did the books.
I doubt that even the better stocked brick-and-mortar stores could even satisfy half of my electronics projects today, and once I have to order online I'll order the whole lot in one go. With the parts arriving at my door in two or three days, it's hard to see the relevance of electronics stores, let alone tat pushers like Rat Shack, where I have to take the time to go there during opening hours, and hope the stuff I need is in stock.
Now you can buy the same stuff direct from the manufacturers in China and cut out the middle man.
OK, its not quite as convenient with the shipping delays compared to driving to the local shop, but the choice is much better and the prices are lower. On the negative side though, Warranty claims get a bit more difficult.
Suppose on the positive side for our American friends, the new "Buy American" policies will result in an instant increase in local providers if you believe the mad man. Pity you will be paying over the odds compared to the rest of us.
That matches my experience: generally shoddy merchandise, uninterested staff and unreasonably high prices. Shoddy, as in the sheet metal nibblers I bought that failed in less than 30 minutes of use and getting used to 10-20% of transistors being DOA. When I lived in Wiilsden, and later in Clapham, it was well worth a trip half across London to Edgeware Road and the electronic sales jungle there instead of walking 1-200 yds to the local Tandy.
I remember visiting London in the 80s when Edgeware Road (and nearby) had so many electronic shops, some dating back to the 30's (with knowledgeable staff that looked as if they also served then). Remember there was even one shop (Samson?) that specialised in transformers of all sorts of sizes, shapes and use.
Last time I wandered down there it was all gone :(
They've redisguised themselves as robots.
PS, how did ancient machine creatures from far far away manage to work out and become the exact shape and colour of the vehicles they would need to disguise themselves as, just in case they lost their homeworld? I'm hoping my small person will realise he needs to ask this kind of question one day, more importantly I'd like to have an answer that sounds smarter than "just sit back and enjoy the firlm, otherwise it's all just nonsence"
You missed the first movie - they scanned vehicles and then took the same shape. (Hey, there was nothing else on the local English stations, and the local French one usually runs a few movies back-to-back. Saw Source Code 3x that way).
@M7S; Did they ever bother to rationalise how Megatron (the Decepticon leader, several times the height of a human) could transform from something the size of a handgun when (e.g.) Optimus Prime- a lorry- appeared to remain on roughly the same scale as the original lorry would have been? (#)
Ditto the ones that were a ghetto blaster and a cassette. (I think the latter was "Soundwave").
It was only recently that I found out- via Wikipedia, obviously- that the Transformers toys were actually derived from several different, pre-existing Japanese toy lines with the "Transformers" brand and concept slapped on for the US. That probably (in real-life terms) explains some of the discrepancies and inconsistencies such as that above.
Damn, I'm really overthinking some 30-year-old toy line, amn't I?
(#) I'm not actually that bothered about whatever silly reason they made up, just curious as to whether they could even be arsed making one up in the first place. :-)
I don't know why they thought phones would be their salvation. Throwing the store almost 100% into phones is what killed the business in the first place. They killed the store brands - Archer, Realistic, Optimus - and started selling the same brands you can get elsewhere. Yes, those store brands were just re-badged gear from other companies but for the most part it was pretty good. I still own a wired telephone "just in case" and it's a RadioShack model I bought in 1994. At my place of business I have Optimus speakers (the heavy metal-cased "AV" models) playing 24x7 in the shop area that were a Father's Day gift for my dad in 1992.
They got rid of the car stereo section and all its associated adapters, harnesses, and cables. They got rid of the huge selection of electronic components and replaced it with a small sampling and the promise that they could order anything that wasn't there. So can we - that's what ebay and Amazon are for.
I am a former Shack employee with several stints in the mid 1990s, store 01-1936. I sold Tandy and IBM Aptiva computers, floppy discs, and CD laser cleaners. I was there for the Newton PDA and the original one-penny cell phone sales. I've matched more DC adapters and weird batteries than I care to imagine. It was a place where people without a lot of technical knowledge could get gear that was better than what they would have chosen on their own at a big-box store, and we could answer any questions they had about it. Some bean counter decided that phones were more profitable and they threw away the rest of the store to chase the money. It didn't work.
Radio Shack at one time was a place you could find components as well as decent electronics. As long as they staid true to that market they were a place to shop at occasionally. Once some marketing failure lusted after cell phone sales they were dead. The two businesses are very different and attract fundamentally different customers. Also, many prefer to deal directly with the carrier at the carrier's store and real money in phones is not in the device sales but in the monthly service charges.
The one in my town never quite stopped being an electronics/parts shop, but were pretty dead during the phone era. They started switching back to their old self sometime last year, and when I went in there about a week ago, the transformation into an updated version of the store I visited as a kid was just about complete.
@ MooJohn; "They killed the store brands - Archer, Realistic, Optimus"
I heard that Tandy/Radio Shack went into decline when the cassette market died off and the vast profits they made from selling those "Concertape" cassettes without bothering to include cases stopped rolling in. ;-)
(Stupid the things you remember from when you were eight years old or whatever, isn't it...)
They had a chain of computer super-stores called Computer City in the '90s.
Worked there as a systems engineer, saw the writing on the wall, and left.
It was interesting in that I rubbed elbows with retail sales staff, which was an eye opener for an engineer. I really didn't need my eyes opened quite that wide. All the time.
Now where am I going to get 3300uF 25V capacitors, solder and those oh-so-handy resistor packs from?
Hint: Greedbay but check them on a reliable meter first. Lots of junk, much of it fake but there are some good parts to be had if you go for the slightly more expensive one on the list.
The advantage of a brick-and-mortar store is that while you are shopping for what you want you are getting ideas for what yopu can do with what you see, not always what the inventor thinks you should be doing with it either.
I turned some plumbing supplies and some case-modder lights into a really nice steampunk raygun, for example.
(And yes I get clods who upon seeing the awesome say "That's just some plumbing stuff fastened together", but I just smile because the next question is always "How did you make the lighting effect?" To which I say "That's the clever part" and walk off).
Radio Shack reminds me mostly of the 1980s but then so does Barney Miller, Service Merchandise and green stamp books to get goodies. Also Dairy Queen but whereas Radio Shack was full of nerds and old guys that smelled of moth balls Dairy Queen was full of big girls that would put out. In retrospect the 90s were way better.
Rat Shack used to have interesting stuff like the SAD1024 BBD chip and a fair selection of electronics, but when PC's started coming out, they began ditching components for bigger items. There are times when you need a cable, connector or project box and can't wait. RS would have been better off concentrating on items that people might need right away. They also made the franchise stores agree to contracts that required them to purchase a hefty dollar amount of stock each year. There used to be a time when a general store out in the boonies would have a RS section. As those got dropped, people got out of the habit of going to a brick and mortar store and started ordering stuff online. The thing that really sucks is that getting electronic parts online means paying several times the part cost in shipping or waiting a month to get something from China with free shipping.
These days, I buy parts in larger quantities and I'm old enough to have a pretty good selection of parts on hand all neatly organized. As a kid, I would buy a 5 or 10 pack of resistors from RS and now I'll get a couple of hundred at a time so the shipping doesn't hurt as much.
I recall getting a load of cool stuff in Hatfield back when RS last closed down (in the UK)
Managed to snag some blue LEDs for way less than the asking price, felt guilty about that because the poor guy probably spend half his life at that shop and probably still can't find work.
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