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Tandy Radio Shack History

Tandy was originally the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company, but in 1950 was split up and David Tandy and his son Charles Tandy traded as the Tandy Leather Company.
Radio Shack was started by Theodore and Milton Deutschmann in 1921, as a shop selling early radio equipment, especially for ship use. 'Radio Shack' was the naval name for the room on board a ship housing the radio electronics.

By the 1960s Radio Shack had a chain of shops across the US but was facing bankruptcy. Charles Tandy bought the shops in 1963 as an opportunity to move into electronics retailing. In America the shops tended to be known as Radio Shack still but when stores were opened in Britain in the 1970s the name Tandy was used.

By the mid 1970s Tandy had changed its line of business to dealing exclusively in electronics, partly because of the boom in Citizen's Band radio sales, first in the US and then in Britain. Some computer enthusiasts within Tandy believed home computers would be the next craze, though Charles Tandy was unconvinced.

Nonetheless Tandy produced their first desktop computer, the TRS-80 Model I, in 1977. At $400 the TRS-80 was cheaper than its competition the Apple II and Commodore PET, and the initial stock of 3000 units (one for each Radio Shack store) quickly sold out. In total over one hundred thousand were sold.

Improved versions, the Model II and Model III, followed in 1979 and 1980, and soon afterwards the Color Computer Model I with colour graphics. All these sold well, in the US at least, though they were never especially popular in the UK. From 1984 Tandy began to sell IBM PC clones, and later some of the first notebook PCs, and the proprietary TRS range was gradually withdrawn.

By 1990 Tandy stores could be found on most High Streets in Britain, selling a wide range of audio electrical goods, components, watches, calculators, and computers from other makers besides Radio Shack. Radio Shack brand equipment tended to be of good quality but a bit expensive.

Towards the end of the 1990s though sales were declining and in 1999 Carphone Warehouse (the mobile phone retailer) bought all 270 Tandy shops in the UK. Some were later sold to camera retailer Jessops but many were closed. However the company, now called RadioShack Corporation, remains a very large electrical retailer in America.

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