Yet another formative component of my life disappears.
After paying the route manager on Saturday morning, the remainder of the money I earned from delivering the Daily Messenger and the Pittsburgh Press was generally spent by noon at the Radio Shack in Homestead. Breadboard kits, solder, and electronics books kept me occupied until the next Saturday, when I'd do it all over again.
In high school, I made friends with the manager and became an unpaid intern of sorts, spending hours reading product data sheets, helping set up displays, and handing out free batteries to all the old folks from the Homestead apartments who stopped by on their way to cash their Social Security checks.
When I was in my late 20s, I began what became the last of my careers- computers. In 1981 I bought a 4K Radio Shack Color Computer that I eventually hacked into a 64K system with a 300 baud modem, four 5 1/4" floppy disk drives and a C compiler, running the multi-user Microware OS-9 operating system. It provided me with the skills needed to make the jump to DEC's VMS operating system and VAXes... and the rest is history.
Like Heathkit and the mail-order electronics training schools, Radio Shack- at least the Radio Shack of the 60s, 70s and 80s- will be sorely missed. Radio Shack in its current form had been in a figurative coma for the last 10-15 years. It's sad to pull the plug, but there's really nothing left to save.
Anyway- thanks, Radio Shack.
-----"In its heyday, RadioShack was so much more than a store — it was an art gallery, a museum, a school. “You didn’t really have really good electronics magazines full of what’s available,” Wozniak remembers. “You had a few catalogues that were full of things like walkie-talkies, but if you went down to RadioShack you could actually see something.” As a teenager he would walk into stores and soak up information, spending hours reading labels, and memorizing prices and feature lists. It was inside those walls where so many watched the technological revolution unfold — and where they first jumped in."