Monday, September 11, 2017

Honoring Tandy Radio Shack

As anyone who listens to Floppy Days knows, my first computer was the TRS-80 Model I.  That little computer, with 4K of RAM and 4K of ROM, with a separate but bundled monitor and cassette drive, and with it’s blocky black-and-white graphics was an absolutely beautiful amazing device.  I will never forget the thrill of receiving that college graduation gift from my wife and the sheer joy of opening the box, hooking everything up, and turning on the machine.  I spent hours going through the bundled Level I manual and learning the limited Level I BASIC.

I clearly remember the months leading up to that acquisition.  As everyone knows, Radio Shacks were ubiquitous in those days and their stores were full of wondrous items, not the least of which was the TRS-80 line of computers.  I spent many an hour in there drooling over the Model I and admiring it’s clean, futuristic lines.  The rest of the store was pretty fun to wander through as well.  Electronics galore.  But, what I remember most was the computers.

Fast forward to modern times, and alas, Radio Shack is pretty much no more, as they never could figure out how to adapt to changing times.  Internet purchases from places like Amazon took away their business and they tried but could never maintain the margins they used to get back in their glory days.  It’s too bad because I will always have fond memories of the stores, even though I have to admit that prior to their liquidation I probably had only been in a Radio Shack a dozen times in the past decade.

Tandy Radio Shack must be given its due.  In their heyday, through the 1990’s, they carried probably the largest variety of computers of any of the major retailers. From the line that was started by the TRS-80 Model I and grew into the Models II, III, 4, 4D, 4P, Model 16, Model 6000, to the pocket computer line, to the Color Computer and its cousin the MC-10, to the Model 100/102, 200 and that entire line, to the PC compatibles like the 1000 and 2000, and a myriad of other computers they made a critical and lasting contribution to the personal computer explosion of that era.

In my Floppy Days Podcast, I have covered some of these machines, with many more yet to go.  I’ve learned so much from researching these machines and own many of the different models.  I’m so impressed with what Radio Shack did over the years in the personal computer space.  When John Linville, Mike Rowan, and Neil Blanchard asked me if I would be interested in helping to put together an event to showcase Tandy Radio Shack and their entire computer line, I didn’t see how I could refuse.  My love and interest in their machines, and my awe and gratitude concerning what Radio Shack did over the years make the answer easy.  I’m grateful and honored to be a part of this inaugural event and to do what I can to help honor a company that is most deserving.

I really hope to see you there!  Please help us make this a great event.  I guarantee fun :)

Randy Kindig
host Floppy Days Podcast
co-host TRS-80 Trash Talk Podcast