Did you hear about Radio Shack? It has been mentioned on the news that they are in financial difficulty and will be closing a large number of locations. It’s sad, although I’ve done little to help them stay open. There are very few hobbyist’s created today that have an interest in building an electronic gadget from the ground up. We would rather go buy a completed foreign item and play with it like a toy, we call that being an appliance operator.
I was about 8 or 9 when I first learned of Radio Shack. We lived in northwest Indiana and my father may have had a passing interest in electronics. I remember that he put together a high fidelity speaker kit, with woofers, tweeters and crossovers…..albeit a few years before stereo. So, when stereo did come around, we had only ONE of those speaker units. Be that as it may, at this time of my life, we had catalogues around the house from Heath Kit, Lafayette Radio and Radio Shack. I know my father and I did the routine mundane things that fathers and sons do, although I can’t remember many, but there was this one project. My father bought a short wave receiver kit from Heath Kit, advertised to hear signals from around the world. We worked in the basement, instruction manual open, a light focused on our table, and acid core solder aroma in the air. It was a cute little radio, black top and sides silver front with knobs and dials. We put the radio in my room, put up the antenna, but…..nothing, well not exactly, there was the tic, tic tic, of the Universal Coordinated Time Clock from Colorado.
I am sorry for Radio Shack, but there business model has fallen away. Like I said, we are not creating hobbyists any more. Even the ever present Ham radio people buy their equipment “ready-made” out of Japan, that’s why companies like Lafayette Radio and Heath Kit folded.
I recall that one of the last Heath Kit projects I wanted to do was with one of my sons in the 1980’s. I had hoped to relive, or instill that same comradely that I did with my father, but, he burnt his finger on the soldering iron and he never returned to the work bench. I would like to inspire any of my grandkids into kit building, but 1. they live too far away, 2. they are moving into teenage-hood and don’t care, and 3. no one sells any kits that are not infantile.
So, sorry Radio Shack, the days of buying a hand full of capacitors, resistors and diodes to build something from a hand drawn schematic are gone. (Wonder if most people even know what a diode, or resistor or capacitor does?) Most of us don’t have the knowledge to create a circuit board from scratch and work with the miniature components of the day.
So, sorry Radio Shack, component buyers are gone. The rest of your merchandise is Big Box Store stuff, and that’s where we all go………
Maybe the tic, tic tic of the clock was prophetic.