Radio Shack

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I started in electronics when I was in the first grade by building a foxhole radio from a book I found in the school library, with a blue razor blade and a pencil lead as the detector.
 

synchro

Senior Member
Location
Chicago, IL
Occupation
EE
I started in electronics when I was in the first grade by building a foxhole radio from a book I found in the school library, with a blue razor blade and a pencil lead as the detector.
Something like this one?

Foxhole_radio.png

I built a crystal set using a 1N34 point contact germanium diode that I bought from Olson's or Radio Shack.
I also used a piece of galena from a rock collection with a homemade "cat whisker" for a detector, but of course it took a lot of fiddling to get it to work OK. The set also used a ubiquitous 365 mmfd (pF) variable capacitor, 2000 Ω headphones, and of course Fahnestock clips for the connectors.
As a kid I had a friend over and in the middle of proudly showing off a 2-tube radio that I'd built he asked about the simpler crystal radio that I'd also put together. When I mentioned offhand that it didn't need batteries or AC power he was amazed, and after that he was only interested in the crystal set. I was kind of disappointed since I'd spent much more time building the 2-tube set.
 
Locally, we had Busbee, Meridian, and Avec electronic supply stores.
I shopped them all, even worked at AVEC for several summers. Also Colony TV on Chamberlayne Avenue sold parts.


MCM Electronics was great for cables, solder and connectors. But they were just bought out by Newark. Mouser had cheaper shipping than DIgiKey for a long time, and they would ship parts out if I called them by 6 PM Eastern.

Allied Electronics is still around too. Order from them now also.
 

FionaZuppa

Senior Member
Location
AZ
Parts Express comes to mind, and DigiKey, Mouser, Jameco, etc.

I used to get Allied and Lafayette catalogs when I was a kid.
Yep.
I routinely order from DigiKey, Newark, Mouser, Allied, Jameco, Adafruit.

By me is still a decent sized surplus store (~8k sq.ft), it's like a huge RS, but all electric & electronic stuff, a bit pricey, but good to have when I need something asap.
 

Jraef

Moderator
Staff member
Location
San Francisco Bay Area, CA, USA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
You guys are making me reminisce. I worked at Lafayette Electronics while in high school and Radio Shack while in college. I bought the first TRS-80 model 1 computer my local college store sold and they hired me to sell computers since they didn't understand them. I had been a fan of Radio Shack since I was a small child building electronics kits and actually made a pilgrimage to Fort Worth to see Tandy Center. I made another trip to Dallas to see an Incredible Universe store. It was amazing.
Did they ever give you the story of how they went from leather and leather working supplies to electronic stores? Talk about a great American success story (in its heyday). The Tandy family owned a few leather goods and “shoe findings” (accessories) stores, based out of Ft Worth. Charles Tandy, the son of the founder, while in the Army during WWII has the idea of providing leather working kits to soldiers as a therapeutic hobby for them that was small and portable. When Tandy first went into mail order for leather working supplies and tools after the war, they bought the mailing list from Popular Mechanics magazine. That exposed the then CEO, Charles Tandy, to the lucrative market of DIY hobbyists who like to make their own stuff, what today we would call “Makers”, and eventually he decided to tap into that for other hobbies, including ham radio enthusiasts. Radio Shack was just a small mail order store in New York, so he bought them and expanded them into the retail outlets for his mail order business. In the 70s they became the largest electronics retailer in the world.
 

hbiss

EC, Westchester, New York NEC: 2014
Location
Hawthorne, New York NEC: 2014
Occupation
EC
I actually didn't like when Allied was bought by a leather company and they rolled part of it into RS selling retail. I figured what does a leather company know about electronics.

-Hal
 

moonshineJ

Member
Location
USA
A lot of landlords haven't even bothered to take down the "Radio Shack" signs. I know of several pylon signs still up, even though the space now has a different unrelated tenant.
Yeah, there is one in San Juan, PR. I thought the store is up and running when I saw it about couple years ago, so I went to (Plaza Americas?) to see what they have and saw For Rent sign. I would pay a hundred bucks for that Radio Shack sign. It is still there. This was a grand brand, and I miss it. I bought a few electronics kits for my kid, may be he will put aside his computer gadgets and play with it.
 
I was a regular. I loved that I could go there on a Sunday and get stuff for my projects. I knew I was paying a premium price, but to get what I wanted on a Sunday was worth it. Radio Shack goes back in my memories farther than knowing what discrete components did. I liked the stereos and radios and the other cool gadgets that they sold. I miss them.
 

FionaZuppa

Senior Member
Location
AZ
I was a regular. I loved that I could go there on a Sunday and get stuff for my projects. I knew I was paying a premium price, but to get what I wanted on a Sunday was worth it. Radio Shack goes back in my memories farther than knowing what discrete components did. I liked the stereos and radios and the other cool gadgets that they sold. I miss them.
Like Heathkit's ;)
 
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