RadioShack Remembered, Via Old Ads on YouTube

By  |  Monday, August 3, 2009 at 2:13 am

The Now ComputerThe news that RadioShack may be becoming The Shack has left me feeling nostalgic and wistful…and when I feel nostalgic and wistful, I often head to YouTube to cheer myself up. After the jump, a bunch of old commercials for the electronics giant, most of which date from the era when it was Radio Shack, a proud division of the Tandy Corporation.

In retrospect, wasn’t putting 8-track tape players in two cars a worse idea than putting them in…no cars at all?

Back in the mid-1970s, I loved the Radio Shack catalog and would stop into my local store frequently to check on its availability. I think that’s the late Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler on the cover, presumably endorsing stereo equipment.

Two brief station promos, then an ad for the TRS-80 Model I (the NOW computer), then some more ads that make me nostalgic, including one for a product named Jimmy Carter.

I may have started as a TRS-80 fan, but by the time the TRS-80 Color Computer came along, I had moved on. In fact, I was an Atari 400 owner who held the CoCo in active contempt.

French-Canadian Model III (and giant line printer) ad makes me nostalgic even though I don’t really understand it.

From 1984, Bill Bixby promotes the Tandy 1000 computer–even then, Radio Shack was sometimes uncomfortable with its name and opted for its more professional-sounding corporate moniker “Tandy.”

I barely remember the TRS-80 Model 4, but I like this ad’s use of the visual of a floppy going into the drive as evidence that it was a fast machine.

If RadioShack really wanted an accurate name, it might consider calling itself SlightlyCheesyButFunLookingElectronicToyShack.

You think your iPhone was pricey? This Canadian ad (note the long o in processor) says that cell phones start at just $1399.

Nerdy-looking man lugs hernia-inducing “portable” phone, shares with nerdy-looking, TRS-80 Model 100-toting son.

This ad mentions CD-ROMs and would therefore appear to date from about the time that RadioShack stopped selling its own line of computers in the mid-1990s.

Maybe RadioShack isn’t changing its name after all–this commercial seems to indicate that it’s still going to be called RadioShack in whatever century the Jetsons live in.



3 Comments For This Post

  1. Troyce Says:

    Yes, that was Arthur Fiedler. During the 70’s he was heavily featured in all the catalogs promoting their stereo equipment.

  2. John Baxter Says:

    I spent much time in Radio Shack’s downtown and Commonwealth Avenue stores. Buying discrete components like resistors and capacitors, and fancy things like vacuum valves (oops, tubes). And, later, transistors (also discrete). (In Boston in those days, indiscrete things were purchased in Scollay Square.)

  3. John Ruschmeyer Says:

    OMG! It looks like those catalogs in the second ad are being delivered by Optimus Prime!

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