Some pretty sad news today – RadioShack has declared Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.
I will always have a soft place in my heart (and head) for RadioShack.
In my teens, I whipped through resistors, transistors, diodes, wires, breadboards, speakers, strobe lights… all manner of electronic components, to feed my frankenstein hobbyist creations.
I even bought my first eight track tape player there (Yes. I AM old) – sadly, lost in a fire when I was in college.
My favorite creation I built, from gear I bought at RadioShack? A Xenon strobe light that was powered by a single D-cell battery.
Xenon bulbs take quite a bit of voltage to strobe, much more than a D-cell can generate with a simple circuit. So, in my design I had a couple of step-up transformers to bump the voltage up to something ridiculous, like, 2000 volts. Using a D-cell, it had low amperage, so while it would shock the snot out of you if you touched something you shouldn’t – it probably wouldn’t outright kill you. Probably.
After I tired of playing with the light, I took the contraption to football camp my sophomore year. I thought it would be hilarious to attach it to our cabin door, and see what happened.
And I come close to getting beat down pretty good by an upper classman. Coincidentally, that was the same week that Elvis died. But I had nothing to do with that.
Over time, my dreams of being an evil genius electronic wizard were superseded by being an evil genius computer scientist, and so I started messing with the Radio-Shack TRS-80 (Trash 80), one of the first consumer computers, by loitering around my local RadioShack store even more than I had been previously.
It was the beginning of a long love affair with computer science, that I continue to this day.
So, fare thee well RadioShack. You were my youthful escape from teenage angst, and my conduit for exploring what came to be my lifetime passion.