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Old 14th Jan 2022, 2:48 pm   #21
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Default Re: Tandy sale 1991

Originally Posted by Gulliver View Post
One of the saddest things about the decline of Tandy/Radio Shack was literally watching the quality of their audio gear slip down year by year.

The Realistic brand had acquired a justified good reputation. I mean who else would hit up TEAC to OEM a reel to reel tape deck and specify that it must be *better* than the corresponding TEAC model? Cassette decks made by Hitachi and JVC....amplifiers either genuinely made in the USA or OEM'd by equally reputable Japanese manufacturers.

Then came the mid to late 80s scramble to "black, plastic crap"....their receivers became adorned with lots of flashing lights and the full specifications which had hitherto been given in the catalogue, gave way to dimensions and weight. Though they even stopped mentioning the weight of their loudspeakers as they got lighter and lighter as the cabinet materials used got cheaper and cheaper. Realistic Mach 1 gave way to Memorex 801 or something similar....wholly inferior product.

Now all their products have a dodgy reputation...but it wasn't always so. My "Micronta" DMM has served me well since the late 80s, and continues to do so.

But the man on the Clapham omnibus stopped buying hi-fi....stopped building his own electrical circuits....and Tandy failed to move with the times, as did the parent Radio Shack. Sad indeed.

There's a website with just about every Radio Shack catalog (US) out there.
Agree with pretty much everything you said there apart from they failed to move with the times. In fairness, they did try, they moved into computers and all the associated paraphernalia, and they did to a large extent stop selling electronic parts to the hobbyist. The trouble was, people who were getting into buying computers had probably by then already taken a dislike to Tandy as a result of their general lowering of standards (hifi etc) and the fact that most of the display stuff seemed to be remote controlled toys and electronic novelties such as flashing disco lights. So it wasn't really cool (call it what you will) to buy a (serious) computer from Tandy. Although saying that, lots of people did. I think they'd come up against a situation where they were constantly chasing and trying to enter emerging markets, but Joe Public saw them as something else. What was once a serious store for electronic audio equipment had become a store for electronic toys and fads.
A digital radio is the latest thing, but a vintage wireless is forever..
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Old 14th Jan 2022, 3:19 pm   #22
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Default Re: Tandy sale 1991

Nobody has yet mentioned one of the best features of Tandy for the likes of us. Namely that for just about every electronic product they sold (audio, radio, computers, even 'badged' products like their pocket computers) you could order the full service manaul. It was a lot easier getting the service manual for their Pocket Computer 1 than trying to convince Sharp to supply the service manual for the PC1211.

As for their computers, I will admit I am somewhat biased in that I had a TRS-80 Model 1 quite early on, and have added to the collection since. But they were totally mis-marketed, particularly the color computer. It was not generally realised that if you added the disk drive to the CoCo, you could then run Microware OS-9 (which Tandy sold), a very nice multitasking, multiuser operating system which was better than anything else on an 8bit micro at the time. There was a very nice structured BASIC, Pascal, and C at least available for that.
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Old 14th Jan 2022, 3:28 pm   #23
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Default Re: Tandy sale 1991

One of their more engaging gimmicks was the Free Torch, an enormous thing with a long grey body. It was free all right, but just as you were about to walk out with it they'd ask you whether you wanted batteries for it - it took something like 5 or 6 cells, so obviously the real wheeze was to sell lots of batteries. They only had to give you the torch once, and with any luck you would come back at least a few times more to buy more batteries for it.

Just read Tony's post above and I agree Tandy UK were great for service manuals. I have a couple of original service manuals for 1980s handheld CB radios, one of which came to me second hand with a ruined Toko coil in it. I was even able to buy that part from their service department, after quoting the part number from the manual.
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Old 14th Jan 2022, 6:47 pm   #24
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Default Re: Tandy sale 1991

I still have the red Tandy pocket torch. Not used in these days of LEDs of course.

The Tandy mailers used to drive my father mad. Seems that on one visit my name was spelt incorrectly, then on another the assistant got something in the address slightly incorrect, etc. Of course ‘computer’ decides these are all different customers but postman knows it’s one house and I was getting three or four at a time!

I remember visiting the store in the mid-70s for a multimeter (22-204B) that was on offer and I was told that they hadn’t got any and offered me a ‘raincheck’. I distinctly remember replying: “Uh?” All then was explained.

I still have the multimeter (and the box it came in) – used it a couple of days ago!
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Old 14th Jan 2022, 8:10 pm   #25
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Default Re: Tandy sale 1991

The TRS80 computers have been mentioned. I do have a story about an early one. In the late 70's I was at a comprehensive. My Dad worked at the Polytechnic in the nearby city, and managed to get the Poly to loan my school an early PET for a few weeks when the Poly had finished but school was still running. It was a major move forward from the dialup teletype that only a couple of staff used via an acoustic coupler.

So that prompted the school to negotiate with the local branch and get a TRS80, I assume Mk1 but really can't be sure. There were two pupils as well as some staff who were allowed to use it as we had demonstrated skill and knowledge on the loaned PET. Unsurprisingly myself and a friend.

Now this is where it gets interesting, and I'm not really sure what I'm saying is fact. We were trying to write a very early game. The TRS80 of the day used BASIC, and to do any kind of screen graphics work you would POKE a value to the screen RAM. So as a test we wrote a bit of BASIC that POKE'd a character to each location of the video RAM, then delete it and write to the next. Whatever caracter would move along each line of the display. Trouble is we miscalculated the video RAM addresses and ended up POKEing above the video RAM. The computer broke after this, though we can't be sure its what we did. We strongly suspected that we had run into writing to ROM and although this shoudn't have done anything, it was the cause of the fault.

That said, the local store where it had been bought did replace it.

Wasn't the first time I'd been happy that the store replaced a faulty product without question. I'd had some headphones go faulty and they were no longer available so got some better ones as a replacement.

Have to agree though about knowledge. As quite a youngster with very little knowledge I went in and asked what resistor I needed to reduce a voltage from x to y (I don't remember the exact details). The quite senior person there told me they didn't know, but it was something to do with Ohms law. I mean they were kind of right, but actually the answer was a voltage regulator. Of course I know that now.
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Old Yesterday, 10:05 pm   #26
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Default Re: Tandy sale 1991

Actually given that the 'dropper resistor' was a circuit staple in a lot of valve circuits your crude idea wasn't far off the mark, and the Tandy person gave you a reasonable answer based on your declared intention of using a resistor as the 'reducer'.

If you'd said you wanted to use a circuit to perform the reduction, perhaps he would have suggested a 78xx regulator.

There are several legends of 'Killer Pokes', the PET has one as well. But maybe this is a subject for a separate thread, or just search for the term online.
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