So Much for Radio Shack, Then…

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll know all about Radio Shack, the once-ubiquitous mall stores that sold all the fiddly little electronic gear you never knew you needed.

Needed some kind of RCA adapter? Radio Shack. A longer phono cord? Radio Shack. Batteries? Radio Shack had them all. But they also had some big ticket items like stereos and speakers sold under the Realistic brand. They’re weren’t great, but they certainly could do the job.



At one point in my life–i.e. when I was still living in my parents bedroom and investing almost everything I earned into records, tapes and stereo gear–I lusted after a pair of Radio Shack’s Mach One speakers.

Realistic Mach 1


And I always looked forward to the annual Radio Shack catalogue. And I’ll admit it: this thing became bathroom reading material for months. (Click on the image for a look inside.)

Radio Shack catalogue 1976

Proper Radio Shacks started disappearing from Canada a few years back, relaunched under the name The Source By Circuit City. And while the chain survived in the US, it looks like its coming to an end, too. Word is that Amazon wants to buy the whole thing to better compete with Apple. If the decided to kill off the brand, it will be the end of something that’s been in business since 1921.





Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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3 thoughts on “So Much for Radio Shack, Then…

  • Wow, thanks for the trip down memory lane. I had the blue 8-track player on page 6.

  • It’s a weird one for me personally because Radioshack is a pretty thick thorn in my family’s past. Back in the late 90s, early 2000s, my folks owned a computer company with a website and a trademarked product. Radioshack Corporation, Tandy Corporation at the time, released a product with the same name and the increased traffic destroyed the website of my parents’ product, simultaneously destroying the product really. That side of their company went bust, but we were still fine and my parents had plenty to support the family. Other aspects of the company were running smoothly and were profitable. However, a strange court ruling came down on their lawsuit against Tandy (Radioshack) for copyright infringement and as a result, my family lost the lawsuit. We had to move, change schools, and our life really hit rock bottom for a couple years. I never shopped at Radioshack again after that. I must have been about 13 years old when it happened. The decision is actually the subject of a number of law-school courses as well simply because it doesn’t make much sense and is an example of a big corporation doing what it wants, even if illegal, and getting away with it.

  • I still have my old pair of Mach 1’s in my basement. Can’t seem to part with them.


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