Goodbye My Sweet Radio Shack

Goodbye my Sweet Radio Shack

I have both fond memories of my beloved Radio Shack and the hatred that comes from being jilted. You see, at one point in my childhood, I could not have enough Radio Shack. I could spend hours of my day in Radio Shack, thinking about new technology and all that I could do with it. I built things using Radio Shack parts. I even had a Radio Shack made Realistic brand stereo, Speakers and even headphones. Yeah, I thought Radio Shack was just the coolest.

When I bought my first computer, it was a TRS-80 Color Computer with a full 32K of memory. Thats right, a whole 32K of memory. Sure, you could the cheaper 16K model but I had to get the 32K. So much memory, what was I going to do with it all.

To be honest, the TRS-80 Color Computer )or CoCo as it was lovingly referred to) was one wonderful machine. It came at a time when Microsoft really thought the Basic computer language was going to rule the world and the CoCo came with Microsoft's color Basic. It hooked to your TV set to give you a full color display and came with a manual that taught one the basics of computer programming. I fell hard. I loved this machine. I ultimately bought multiple cassette decks (that is how you stored programs), 2 floppy disk drives and ultimately, even a huge 5 Megabyte hard drive.

Radio Shack back then was innovative. They improved the CoCo, eventually offering a 512K version of it that allowed you to hook it up to a real computer monitor. They even released OS-9 for it which was a full multi-user/multi-tasking operating system. Talk about a steep learning curve. Talk about wonderful. Radio Shack was the best.

But then things changed. Unexpectedly (for me anyway), Radio Shack pulled the plug on the CoCo in 1991 and it was right around this time that Radio Shack forgot what it did for a living. When they did this, they excommunicated all of their loyal fans. Fans that were so loyal, some are still running cocos today. There are still user groups and web sites dedicated to the Color Computer (see . I hate to admit it, but I still have a color computer in my attic that I have never been able to bring myself to get rid of. Kind of sad when I think about it.

But what Radio Shack did for me was turn me from a lover into a hater. I swore in 1991, that I would never buy another thing from Radio Shack. I had spent so much money buying every bit of hardware and software I could find for my beloved machine that I could not believe how easily Radio Shack wrote me off. I even wrote a letter to Tandy in Fort Worth asking them if they had lost their minds. How could they piss off such a loyal user base? How could they not realize what they had, the family they had built.

I have largely lived up to my promise of personal boycott of Radio Shack. I probably have spent less than $20.00 there through all of these years. Of course, after they discontinued the Color Computer, they continued on their suicide mission, eventually getting out of the computer hardware business all together and becoming a small store for common consumer electronic devices offering little value add.

So I suppose Radio Shack going out of business was long over due. That the maker movement has grown so large without much help from Radio Shack speaks volumes on how poorly run Radio Shack had become. They truly forgot what their value was to people. If it wasn't so sad, it would be funny.

Goodbye Tandy Radio Shack, makers of all things TRS-80. You sadly had become irrelevant a long time ago.


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