A BRIEF HISTORY OF RADIO SHACK
Starting on a Shoestring Budget 
The story of Radio Shack begins in 1919 in Fort Worth, Texas, with a chance meeting of two friends, Norton Hinckley and Dave L. Tandy (1889-1966). During their visit, these ambitious young fellows decided to pool their resources and go into business together. Their venture, which the two gentlemen named the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company, sold leather shoe parts (soles, heels and shoelaces) to shoe repair shops in the Fort Worth area. 
 
Although the partners had no way of knowing it at the time, their humble beginning would evolve into Radio Shack Corporation – a multifaceted, multibillion dollar company, and one of the nation's largest retailers of consumer electronics.  

The First Radio Shack Store 
Two years later (1921) and half a continent away, two London-born Bostonian brothers, Theodore and Milton Deutschmann, opened a one-store retail and mail-order operation in the heart of downtown Boston. These young immigrant brothers wanted to provide amateur and ham radio equipment to the public; much of it was leftover Army gear. At the time, this radio technology was cutting-edge and the field was wide open. To pursue their interests, the brothers opened a retail store (a block from the site of the Boston Massacre). William Halligan, one of Deutschmann's first employees and later the founder of Hallicrafters, suggested the name, “Radio Shack”. They chose the name, "Radio Shack," which was a term for the room that housed a ship's radio equipment. 
 
The brothers thought the name was fitting since their store would supply the equipment for ship’s radio officers, as well as ham radio operators. 
 
Beginning in 1921, Radio Shack would grow to a handful of stores clustered in the Northeast, and become a leading electronics mail-order distributor to hobbyists. This is how it would remain until thecompany and a young Texan named Charles Tandy crossed paths four decades later. 
 
Charles Tandy Joins the Family Business 
Meanwhile, the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company grew modestly through the years. Although the company survived the Great Depression, it was nearly crippled when World War II began in 1941. Shoes were rationed – two pairs per adult per year – and leather for civilian use virtually disappeared. 
 
Mr. Tandy's oldest son, Charles D. Tandy (1918-1978), while serving in the Navy during the war, observed how leathercraft was used as a therapeutic tool for patients in military hospitals and by servicemen in recreation and rehabilitation centers. He told his father that leathercraft was the way to steer the company during the war years – and to prepare for what he believed would be a healthy, new, post-war hobby market. 
 
Tandy Leather Company Formed 
Charles Tandy returned to Fort Worth in 1947 a driven and demanding man with big dreams. The Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company was a five-store and mail-order catalog operation with about $750,000 in annual sales. Pretty good for those times but not good enough for Charles.Tandy Leather Company 
 
Charles firmly believed in the high gross-profit margins of the leathercraft business and the growth possibilities of the leisure-time hobby market. His views clashed with those of the family's partner, Norton Hinckley. The disagreement ended in a split in 1950 when Charles and his father formed Tandy Leather Company, while Hinckley kept the shoe business. 
 
Tandy Corporation Listed on the New York Stock Exchange 
By 1954, Charles' enthusiasm for providing the leather parts and tools to make wallets and other items had grown the Tandy Leather Company to 67 stores in 36 states and Hawaii, with sales of $8 million. Although successful, the company had reached a point where coping with estate and management problems inherent in a privately held family business dictated selling the enterprise to gain a listing on a major stock exchange to attract investors and finance expansion. 
 
Tandy Leather Company was sold to American Hide and Leather of Boston, a respected New England firm, which changed its name to General American Industries after the merger. Following a string of unsuccessful acquisitions, the firm soon found itself in financial trouble. Profits from the Tandy organization were used to cover losses of the parent company, instead of going toward expansion of the leathercraft business as Charles had originally planned. 
 
Tandy began a struggle for control of the company. He prevailed four years later and was elected Chairman of the Board in November 1959. He moved the corporation's headquarters to Fort Worth the following year, and the name of the company was changed to Tandy Corporation. On Nov. 14, 1960, the company's stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "TAN." (When the name of the company was changed from Tandy Corporation to Radio Shack Corporation in May 2000, the NYSE symbol became "RSH.") 
 
Tandy Corporation Acquires RadioShack 
Radio Shack continued to do quite well. It issued its first catalog in 1939 when it entered the high-fidelity music equipment market. 
 
In 1947, it opened the nation's first audio showroom; providing amplifiers, speakers, turntables, phonograph cartridges, and the like. And by this time the company had an extensive mail order business and expended to nine retail electronic stores. 
 
In 1954, Radio Shack began to sell their private-label products under the brand name Realist®. However, the company was later sued. As a result, changed their brand name to Realistic®. 
 
By the early 1960s, Radio Shack had expanded to nine retail stores (plus a mail-order business) and was a leading distributor of electronic parts and products to do-it-yourselfers around the world. However, the company soon fell on hard times due to poor operating practices, coupled with a disastrous credit offering to its customers. 
 
But the growth of the Radio Shack chain was short-lived as management made a mistake: The stores began selling on credit and soon had a pile of uncollected receivables. And in the late 1960s, with the bank on their back, the company was practically bankrupt. 
 
Charles Tandy, who had become intrigued with consumer electronics, saw the small Radio Shack chain as an excellent opportunity for rapid growth. He bought the essentially bankrupt company in 1963 for the equivalent of $300,000 cash, and embarked on a plan that turned it into one of the great success stories of American retailing. Since then, Radio Shack has grown to more than 7,300 stores, and its net sales and operating revenues have ballooned to $4.8 billion. 
 
Tandy began to phase-out its non-electronic product lines. And in 1975, Tandy Corporation became exclusively an electronics company after it spun off all other operations into Tandycrafts and Tandy Brands. In 1986, the company spun off its foreign retail operations into InterTAN, Inc. 
 
Products That Took America by Storm 
The '70s proved to be a decade of incredible growth for Radio Shack - not only in the number of stores that were opened, but in the quantity, quality and sophistication of the products available at the company's stores and dealers. 
 
RadioShack-owned delivery truckSome called Radio Shack, "The McDonalds of Electronics" or the "Walmart of Hi-Tech". Not only did Radio Shack grow in number of stores, but in the quantity, quality and sophistication of its products. The incredibly popular citizen-band (CB) radios, were one of its top selling items. (The company pitched the CB as a "survival tool for the energy crunch of the '70s"). Tandy's own CB handle was "Mr. Lucky." 
 
Following the highly successful citizen-band (CB) radios in 1977, Radio Shack introduced the first mass-produced personal computer: the TRS-80® microcomputer - Only $599.95. This computer was the creation of a 24-year-old engineer named Steve Leininger. 
 
In contrast to build-it-yourself units available at the time, the TRS-80 was fully wired and tested. Although a primitive machine by today's standards, it was a technological and price breakthrough, and overwhelming customer demand caused a production backlog that lasted for months. Over 200,000 TRS-80 Model I computers were sold from 1977 to 1981. 
 
 The '80s continued to make Radio Shack the "biggest name in little computers," as the company's advertising proclaimed. It's been said that Radio Shack has done more than any company - more than Apple or IBM - to bring the computer to your home and office. In addition, Radio Shack offered the first affordably priced stereo receiver with digital technology, the first mobile/portable cellular telephone that consumers could install themselves and the first high-performance satellite TV system that could be installed by the do-it-yourselfer. 
 
The '90s brought a rejuvenation of RadioShack's core business. The company saw an explosion in personal communications. The company invented the Family Radio Service (FRS), which uses license-free 2-way personal radios. Today, RadioShack sells more wireless phones than any other retailer. 
 
In 1999, RadioShack launched its website, www.RadioShack.com. And in 2003, discontinued printing their United States-distributed full-line catalogs :-( and concentrated their marketing media towards their website; an online solutions center, delivering thousands of products shipped right to your doorstep. 
 
RadioShack in the 21st Century – A Solutions Provider 
RadioShack offered a retail service concept unlike any other specialty consumer electronics retailer. Through its convenient and comfortable neighborhood stores, knowledgeable sales associates help customers get the most out of their technology products. RadioShack's legendary force of knowledgeable and helpful sales associates has been consistently recognized by several independent groups for providing the best customer service in the consumer electronics and wireless industries.

At its peak in 1999, it had operated stores under either the name RadioShack or Tandy in the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. 
 
Bankruptcy
On February 5, 2015, RadioShack Corporation filed for Chapter 11 protection under United States bankruptcy law after 11 consecutive quarterly losses. By then, it was operating only in the United States and Latin America.  A few months later,  General Wireless Inc., purchased the assets of the company, including the RadioShack brand and related intellectual property assets, for $26.2 million.

 
Betting On A Radio Shack Revival: E-Commerce Investor REV Buys RadioShack
(source: Joan Verdon, Senior Contributor, Forbes.com)
November 19, 2020 - Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV), the retail acquisition company that bought Pier 1 and Modell’s Sporting Goods out of bankruptcy and grabbed the Dressbarn brand after it liquidated, has a new rescue mission: Radio Shack. 
 
REV’s strategy is to buy struggling, but well-known retail names it believes can benefit from their e-commerce expertise. In the world of online shopping, according to REV founders Tai Lopez and Alex Mehr, the brand you’ve heard of beats the one you’ve never heard of every time.  
 
Lopez said, "So even though Radio Shack has been mocked as the place where old cassette tape players, transistor radios, and personal CD players went to die, everyone has heard of it. Every brand goes through phases of love and hate, but what we care about is it’s known. We can revive it on top of the high awareness that already exists.” 
 
" Unlike other recent REV retail acquisitions, which were in the process of liquidating when they were sold, Radio Shack had a functioning website, and a network of 500 independent stores that license the Radio Shack name, and sell Radio Shack branded products. That will make it easier to get the REV relaunch up to speed quickly.", Lopez said.

Lopez agrees that Radio Shack has a lot of room to grow into many new product areas. “We’re interested in potentially having Radio Shack laptops, having our own flat screen TVs,” he said. “We want to expand it to anything consumer electronics, home, the phone business, home security. We want to go really broad.”

Those that knock the brand as a seller of out-of-date tech should get to know today’s Radio Shack, he said. “If you go into a Radio Shack stores, there’s window sensor for your alarm system, there’s drones kids can get for the holidays, there’s radio controlled cars with bluetooth speakers. We are sourcing out of the latest and greatest stuff that’s out there,” he said. 
 
Ron Garriques, CEO of VEYEP Holdings LLC, which headed the investment group that owned Radio Shack, said “Whatever was cool, is becoming cool again. I think Radio Shack can ride that.” And that is what REV is betting on.