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December 11, 2008 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Radio Shack catalog archives. Revisit your geeky youth.
posted by davebush (29 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
This pretty much makes my day.

A good friend's dad worked at Radio Shack when he was a kid, until it became an unfeasible way to make a living (Now he works at Northrop Grumman). He still waxes poetic about the days when you could walk in and actually assemble a radio from in-store components.

Not my geeky youth -- but still. Cue nostalgia!
posted by puckish at 7:01 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

I really hate use of Flash for heaps of information like this (unsearchable, unlinkable, etc), but I have to say the interface is interesting.

1970, pg. 29, HOLY CRAP, $399 for a record player and tape deck?!?! I just ran that through the BLS inflation calculator and that's $2200 in today's dollars. Man, the Hi Fi companies were really putting the wood to their customers. Good god almighty.
posted by crapmatic at 7:04 PM on December 11, 2008

Wow. I'd totally pore over the Radio Shack catalogs as a kid. I totally recognize the covers and contents of my most favorite years. Boy was am I a nerd!
posted by zsazsa at 7:09 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have to agree that while I love the concept, it's utility as a resource is wasted by the flash interface.
posted by sswiller at 7:10 PM on December 11, 2008

I'm afraid to look for fear of shedding tears for the days when the Rat Shack actually sold useful electronic parts instead of mere cell phone accessories.
posted by exogenous at 7:12 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Bummer, the site has crashed. I was hoping for a couple of capacitors and a few diodes.
posted by GregWithLime at 7:12 PM on December 11, 2008

Now all the site needs is some popups asking if we need any cell phone plans today, or might be interested in some batteries.
posted by crapmatic at 7:21 PM on December 11, 2008

Holy cow this takes me back.
posted by Songdog at 7:25 PM on December 11, 2008

As a teenager I worked at Radio Shack and loved it there. I learned something new every day. Had I not worked there, I don't know that I'd be doing what I do for a living today.

I forget the exact statistics now, but if there were 5000 McDonald's at the time, there was something like 6000 Radio Shacks. When customers would ask what they should do if they had any issues with their purchase, I'd tell them to find a McDonald's and look around and they'd find a Radio Shack too. Maybe even two of them.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:35 PM on December 11, 2008


Needs the nerdporn tag.
posted by loquacious at 8:21 PM on December 11, 2008

Dear god I loved these catalogs when I was growing up. And now I really wish I still had one of these.
posted by bigbigdog at 8:51 PM on December 11, 2008

My childhood ended the day Radio Shack stopped giving out free catalogs.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:06 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh god, the orange Flavoradio, companion of my youth.

The box it came in was good for stashing some golf pencils and maybe a pile of Topps cards, too. Just the doubles, though, so you didn't draw all over your only Jose Canseco card in a regrettable golf-pencil accident.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:40 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Aw. Now if I could browse through some Consumers Distributing catalogs, the nostalgia trip would be complete.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:17 PM on December 11, 2008

I love Radio Shack. It's so wrong.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:57 PM on December 11, 2008

I see your geekiness and and I raise you old scientific instrument catalogs.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:50 AM on December 12, 2008

Extended warranty with those AA batteries, sir?
posted by gman at 4:12 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Maybe I'm too young for it, but I don't get the love for Radio Shack. Since I can remember, they've represented low-quality, over-priced shit, with extraordinarily bad customer service. I really don't understand how the company is in business these days.
posted by explosion at 4:18 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Radio Shack is definitely low-quality and over-priced and has been for many years. But it is nonetheless true that it is the only local source for a lot of electronics parts if you don't live in a big city. It is actually cheaper to buy small packs of resistors at RS than to have them shipped from DigiKey or wherever. (You can buy in bulk, but that's no good if you don't want bulk or if you don't have a time machine to go back and order it in time to have it now.)

And you can definitely build a radio from in-store components. It'll just cost you like $100 to build something that gets 3 stations and will melt in the rain.
posted by DU at 4:47 AM on December 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

Xmas 1979 - Page 15 - Top Right - The "Good System"

While the speakers and turntable were actually crappy (particularly the needles I recall), they did get a lot of use blasting out Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd (and Fleetwood Mac and Air Supply I reluctantly admit). The SA-10 mini amp however was excellent. I used it up through college converting from vinyl to tape to CD. Then my friends' band took it over and bodgered to use for a small drum mic amp. They are still using it. Of course now the vinyl vaneer is all but gone or covered with band stickers.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:17 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you can juke the salesperson trying to give you a cell phone salespitch, the cool thing about Radioshack is that it's probably the only place most malls (or stripmalls) where you can pick up a 555 IC on a whim. Some places have actually increased their parts selection in the last year or two, adding some cool sensors and other bits and bobs to the mix.

I'll never forget lusting after Planes and Tanks in my youth.
posted by drezdn at 5:46 AM on December 12, 2008

I went to Radio Shack last night for an LM324 quad op amp. In the old days, there was a whole electronics section with great linear and digital ICs, LEDs, and so on. I remember wiring up several comparators and an LED bar strip to make a stereo volume monitor ca. 1987. Knew the catalog by heart. These days, all the ICs, passive components, LEDs, and flashlight bulbs are stuffed into a toolbox-looking block whose purpose is to take up minimum space in the store. Everything was mixed up and busted (flashlight bulbs broken, etc.). When I finally found the (one) 324 that promised was "in stock," the pins were totally bent. Retail price $1.69. I passed. Cost at the MIT course 6 stockroom: free.
posted by Mapes at 6:38 AM on December 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

I saw this the other day, man does it ever bring back memories: my electronic metronome kit that I entered in the science fair, my 50-in-1 electronic projects set, "Good, Better, Best". The Radio Shack near me in those days was in the back of the Friendly Frost appliance store, believe it or not. Outside of the electronics surplus places on Canal Street in NYC, it was the only place I knew of to buy components.

I recently went to one of the Radio Shacks near me to buy solder. I had to explain to the salesperson what solder was.
posted by tommasz at 6:58 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cool. Now do this with Service Merchandise.
posted by JBennett at 7:40 AM on December 12, 2008

The TRS-80 - despite the unflattering nickname it picked up after its time - nonetheless may have broadened the market for personal computers more relative to its then-current size as any other PC in history.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:53 AM on December 12, 2008

Leafing through the 1970 catalog made me sort of sad, and I don't know why yet.
posted by jquinby at 9:46 AM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wow, paging through the thing I could actually smell the catalog and feel those raggedy edges. Freaky.
posted by DU at 10:22 AM on December 12, 2008

1982, page 134. Timekube!
posted by genghis at 9:29 AM on December 13, 2008

Metafilter's own Jason Scott rants and improves.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:35 PM on December 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

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