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- RADIO SHACK HISTORY (Page 1 of  5) -

Did you know?
Radio Shack once owned Allied Electronics!  In 1970, Allied Radio and Allied Electronics changed ownership when they were acquired by Tandy Corporation (now Radio Shack Corporation) and moved its headquarters from Chicago, IL to Fort Worth, TX.  For their 1971 calendar year, Tandy introduced combined catalogs of Allied Radio Shack products.  (Allied Radio Shack catalogs and sale flyers from 1970-71 can be found on this website.)

In 1973, due directly to federal court action, Tandy was ordered to divest itself of Allied Radio, but by that time with the purging of duplicate stock and closing of low volume stores, there was very little left to sell off, and the Tandy stores would once again bear the Radio Shack name.

Now you can view all of the old Allied Radio & Allied Electronics Catalogs.



 Mr. Rebates


Radio Shack Hits a Home Run
with CB Radio Sales!

In the mid 70's, the country was was hit by a CB Radio phenomenon.  But why the nationwide frenzy to buy CB radios?  After all, the CB radio had been around since 1959 when Radio Shack's first Realistic CB was introduced.  Industry sources attribute the interest to the OPEC oil embargo of 1973 which led to long lines at the fuel pumps and the nationwide 55mph speed limit.  Truckers began to use CB radios to find the location of gas and police speed traps.  This received a lot of publicity and got the public interested...very interested.

Radio Shack's CB radio sales escalated as follows:
In 1973, CB sales were $175 million.
In 1975, CB sales were $350 million.
In 1976, CB sales were $500 million.

On July 27, 1976 an FCC ruling authorized that the citizen band channels be increased from 23 to 40 channels.  On January 1, 1977, the 40-channel CB radio hit the market, and Radio Shack sold the first one!!!



A Brief History of RadioShack

Starting on a Shoestring Budget
The story of Radio Shack begins in 1919 in Fort Worth, Texas, with a chance meeting of two friends, Norton Hinckley and Dave L. Tandy (1889-1966). During their visit, these ambitious young fellows decided to pool their resources and go into business together. Their venture, which the two gentlemen named the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company, sold leather shoe parts (soles, heels and shoelaces) to shoe repair shops in the Fort Worth area.

Although the partners had no way of knowing it at the time, their humble beginning would evolve into Radio Shack Corporation – a multifaceted, multibillion dollar company, and one of the nation's largest retailers of consumer electronics.

The First Radio Shack Store
Two years later (1921) and half a continent away, two London-born Bostonian brothers, Theodore and Milton Deutschmann, opened a one-store retail and mail-order operation in the heart of downtown Boston. These young immigrant brothers wanted to provide amateur and ham radio equipment to the public; much of it was leftover Army gear. At the time, this radio technology was cutting-edge and the field was wide open. To pursue their interests, the brothers opened a retail store (a block from the site of the Boston Massacre). William Halligan, one of Deutschmann's first employees and later the founder of Hallicrafters, suggested the name, “Radio Shack”. They chose the name, "Radio Shack," which was a term for the room that housed a ship's radio equipment.

The brothers thought the name was fitting since their store would supply the equipment for ship’s radio officers, as well as ham radio operators.

Beginning in 1921, Radio Shack would grow to a handful of stores clustered in the Northeast, and become a leading electronics mail-order distributor to hobbyists. This is how it would remain until the company and a young Texan named Charles Tandy crossed paths four decades later.

Charles Tandy Joins the Family Business
Meanwhile, the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company grew modestly through the years. Although the company survived the Great Depression, it was nearly crippled when World War II began in 1941. Shoes were rationed – two pairs per adult per year – and leather for civilian use virtually disappeared.

Mr. Tandy's oldest son, Charles D. Tandy (1918-1978), while serving in the Navy during the war, observed how leathercraft was used as a therapeutic tool for patients in military hospitals and by servicemen in recreation and rehabilitation centers. He told his father that leathercraft was the way to steer the company during the war years – and to prepare for what he believed would be a healthy, new, post-war hobby market.

Tandy Leather Company Formed
Charles Tandy returned to Fort Worth in 1947 a driven and demanding man with big dreams. The Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company was a five-store and mail-order catalog operation with about $750,000 in annual sales. Pretty good for those times but not good enough for Charles.

Charles firmly believed in the high gross-profit margins of the leathercraft business and the growth possibilities of the leisure-time hobby market. His views clashed with those of the family's partner, Norton Hinckley. The disagreement ended in a split in 1950 when Charles and his father formed Tandy Leather Company, while Hinckley kept the shoe business.

Tandy Corporation Listed on the New York Stock Exchange
By 1954, Charles' enthusiasm for providing the leather parts and tools to make wallets and other items had grown the Tandy Leather Company to 67 stores in 36 states and Hawaii, with sales of $8 million. Although successful, the company had reached a point where coping with estate and management problems inherent in a privately held family business dictated selling the enterprise to gain a listing on a major stock exchange to attract investors and finance expansion.

Tandy Leather Company was sold to American Hide and Leather of Boston, a respected New England firm, which changed its name to General American Industries after the merger. Following a string of unsuccessful acquisitions, the firm soon found itself in financial trouble. Profits from the Tandy organization were used to cover losses of the parent company, instead of going toward expansion of the leathercraft business as Charles had originally planned.

Tandy began a struggle for control of the company. He prevailed four years later and was elected Chairman of the Board in November 1959. He moved the corporation's headquarters to Fort Worth the following year, and the name of the company was changed to Tandy Corporation. On Nov. 14, 1960, the company's stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "TAN." (When the name of the company was changed from Tandy Corporation to Radio Shack Corporation in May 2000, the NYSE symbol became "RSH.")

Tandy Corporation Acquires RadioShack
Radio Shack continued to do quite well. It issued its first catalog in 1939 (shown to the left) when it entered the high-fidelity music equipment market.

In 1947, it opened the nation's first audio showroom; providing amplifiers, speakers, turntables, phonograph cartridges, and the like. And by this time the company had an extensive mail order business and expended to nine retail electronic stores.

In 1954, Radio Shack began to sell their private-label products under the brand name Realist®. However, the company was later sued. As a result, changed their brand name to Realistic®.

By the early 1960s, Radio Shack had expanded to nine retail stores (plus a mail-order business) and was a leading distributor of electronic parts and products to do-it-yourselfers around the world. However, the company soon fell on hard times due to poor operating practices, coupled with a disastrous credit offering to its customers.

But the growth of the Radio Shack chain was short-lived as management made a mistake: The stores began selling on credit and soon had a pile of uncollected receivables. And in the late 1960s, with the bank on their back, the company was practically bankrupt.

Charles Tandy, who had become intrigued with consumer electronics, saw the small Radio Shack chain as an excellent opportunity for rapid growth. He bought the essentially bankrupt company in 1963 for the equivalent of $300,000 cash, and embarked on a plan that turned it into one of the great success stories of American retailing. Since then, Radio Shack has grown to more than 7,300 stores, and its net sales and operating revenues have ballooned to $4.8 billion.

Tandy began to phase-out its non-electronic product lines. And in 1975, Tandy Corporation became exclusively an electronics company after it spun off all other operations into Tandycrafts and Tandy Brands. In 1986, the company spun off its foreign retail operations into InterTAN, Inc.

Products That Took America by Storm
The '70s proved to be a decade of incredible growth for Radio Shack - not only in the number of stores that were opened, but in the quantity, quality and sophistication of the products available at the company's stores and dealers.

Some called Radio Shack, "The McDonalds of Electronics" or the "Walmart of Hi-Tech". Not only did Radio Shack grow in number of stores, but in the quantity, quality and sophistication of its products. The incredibly popular citizen-band (CB) radios, were one of its top selling items. (The company pitched the CB as a "survival tool for the energy crunch of the '70s"). Tandy's own CB handle was "Mr. Lucky."

Following the highly successful citizen-band (CB) radios in 1977, Radio Shack introduced the first mass-produced personal computer: the TRS-80® microcomputer - Only $599.95. This computer was the creation of a 24-year-old engineer named Steve Leininger.

In contrast to build-it-yourself units available at the time, the TRS-80 was fully wired and tested. Although a primitive machine by today's standards, it was a technological and price breakthrough, and overwhelming customer demand caused a production backlog that lasted for months. Over 200,000 TRS-80 Model I computers were sold from 1977 to 1981.

To the right, is the first appearance of the TRS-80 Computer within a Radio Shack catalog. It appeared as an insert within the 1978 Radio Shack catalog. (Click to enlarge.)

The '80s continued to make Radio Shack the "biggest name in little computers," as the company's advertising proclaimed. It's been said that Radio Shack has done more than any company - more than Apple or IBM - to bring the computer to your home and office. In addition, Radio Shack offered the first affordably priced stereo receiver with digital technology, the first mobile/portable cellular telephone that consumers could install themselves and the first high-performance satellite TV system that could be installed by the do-it-yourselfer.

The '90s brought a rejuvenation of RadioShack's core business. The company saw an explosion in personal communications. The company invented the Family Radio Service (FRS), which uses license-free 2-way personal radios. Today, RadioShack sells more wireless phones than any other retailer.

In 1999, RadioShack launched its website, And in 2003, discontinued printing their United States-distributed full-line catalogs :-( and concentrated their marketing media towards their website;
an online solutions center, delivering thousands of products shipped right to your doorstep.

RadioShack in the 21st Century – A Solutions Provider
Today, RadioShack offers a retail service concept unlike any other specialty consumer electronics retailer. Through its convenient and comfortable neighborhood stores, knowledgeable sales associates help customers get the most out of their technology products. RadioShack's legendary force of knowledgeable and helpful sales associates has been consistently recognized by several independent groups for providing the best customer service in the consumer electronics and wireless industries.

Contributing Source:

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