THROWBACK THURSDAY: Radio Shack Catalogs

Were you a geek in the 1940s, 1960s, or 1980s? If you were pushing the envelope back then, you probably bought a lot of your equipment from Radio Shack. They were the go-to location for all those parts you needed. Sort of like the way Solid Signal is today, except you actually had to go to a physical location.

Radio Shack was more than just a store, way back when. It was a place to test your vacuum tubes, get advice, and meet people who shared the same hobbies as you. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Solid Signal really is the Radio Shack of the 21st century I guess.

Radio Shack is long gone

Radio Shack is gone, the victim of decades of bad decisions. When I was young, they had a “club” where you could get a free battery every month. That was a good decision, and ending that program was a bad one. They also had a frustrating habit of asking you for tons of personal information just so you could buy something small. People started to avoid them if they were in a rush. Eventually, the company was overrun by subpar gadgets and ended its life as a glorified cell phone store. I miss them honestly, at least I miss the way they were in the 1980s. Good thing DIY’ers can now come to for the consumer electronics parts and accessories they need.

It’s better to remember them in the good old days

Back “in the day” Radio Shack was a DIY paradise. If you needed vacuum tubes, integrated circuits or even high-end home theatre gear, that was your source. Have you ever missed those days?

If you’re looking for an afternoon of entertainment, go to Radio Shack Catalogs and check out their selection of old catalogs, commercials, and ads. You’ll marvel at the $2,000 satellite dishes, dial telephones, and $4,000 computers. This site is a pleasant walk down memory lane for some of us, and for you younger folks, it’s an introduction to “retro geekdom,” If you’re a hipster who enjoys that retro style, check out the 1963 catalog, full of retro goodness and page after page of resistors. Personally I’m a fan of the early-1980s computer catalogs. While the tech is old, I guess I am too. I still remember lusting after that TRS-80 Model III.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.