Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Sunday, February 08, 2015

When I was a kid

my dad had a sort of hobby room of his own that had ham radios, Morse code keys, oscilliscopes, etc. We had a big tower in the backyard wherever we lived. He built a TV from Heath Kit when I was in junior high, and when we moved from Louisiana to California, we had a CB radio in each car to communicate with one another (although the truckers flirted with my mom over the airwaves). Needless to say, we made regular visits to RadioShack. When I was in high school, I took a computer class--a very new thing, as this was about 1982, and our first computers at the school were IBM PCIIs and TRS-80s (the latter manufactured by company that owned RadioShack, which also owned Tandy Leather, another hobby shop my dad took me into occasionally.)

So I learned DOS and BASIC and eventually got my own computer (an Atari 800 XL, which got me through high school, college, and part of grad school before I had to finally break down and get a PC). Whenever I needed something like an RF modulator or game adapter, or any little electronic gizmo, I went to RadioShack. The last time I remember being in one was in the 90s, at the mall, and even then the employees outnumbered the customers, and were a little overzealous in trying to help to the point where I left after the third person (in a very small store) came up to me, disturbing my shopping, and I gave up and left. I might have been in one since then, but if so, it wasn't particularly memorable. But two of my three stepfathers have also been radio enthusiasts, so I'm sure it remained a Mecca for them in terms of supplies. And I know they sell things for cell phones and have tried to update the shop to the needs of newer generations. But sadly, they've slipped into bankruptcy and are selling off thousands of stores. For which, I must admit, I mourn, as overall I still remember it with affection.

Last days of RadioShack: Fans remember an institution

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