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Before it was "The Shack"

When I was growing up, one of the things that I loved to read was the Radio Shack catalog.  It was full of wonderful electronic gadgets and parts.  These items branded with Tandy, Realistic, Optimus, Archer or just Radio Shack, were never deemed the highest quality and NEVER was on the high end of user interface design, but always did what it needed to do. From 1939 to 2003, Radio Shack produced a catalog of what was available through their chain.  Not everything was stocked in their stores, but anything in the catalog was available in a few days at any of their stores if you special ordered.  A fellow by the name of Mike has meticulously scanned and indexed all of those catalogs and put them online for your viewing pleasure.  I found a ton of things in here that reminded me of my childhood.

Radio Shack Catalog 1939 - Cover 

Before Radio Shack re-branded itself as "The Shack" and changed their focus on selling cellular phones, it was a place where you could buy a wide array of electronic components from individual resistors to stereo receivers.  I used to head out to the Radio Shack with my Mom to pick up replacement vacuum tubes for our little black and white travel TV as well as take advantage of their battery of the month program.  A lot of things about my childhood were Radio Shack branded.  My first radio was a Flavor Radio in Blueberry (1979 Catalog, Page 170).  My first foray into playing with electronics was with a 50 in One Project kit (1983 Catalog, Page 133).  I could go on and on about random stuff I purchased there over the years or drooled over.  Even when everyone would refer to the place at "Rat Shack" or "Radio Crap" or whatever other childish term, you still knew that in a pinch you could buy the part or cable there.  And it would work.    Good times...

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