Monday, May 10, 2010

Radio Shack and the fading era of Electronic Hobbyist Geekdom

From Hallicraft and Heathkit to Radio Shack, and now ... beyond

I was never the sort of serious electronics tinkerer a few of my friends were during my childhood and adolescence in the 1950s and 1960s, but I did tinker a bit, build a few simple kits, and get a novice class amateur radio license. The mail order kit companies, specialty shops, and various popular electronics magazines were the place to go for parts, kits, plans, and information during that time.

The rise of Radio Shack made the tinkering culture much more accessible and convenient.  There were Radio Shacks scattered across every major market area, so capacitors, resistors, potentiometers, transistors, and other components used by the hobbyist or inventor were a quick trip away from most locations in the U.S.

Change of focus at Radio Shack

Due to changes in market conditions Radio Shack has been re-branding itself successfully as a "mobility" store, focusing on cell phones. This has led to a jump in their profitability, while causing angst in its older customer base.

Read about it here on Wired Magazine, or join in the discussion on Reddit.

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