Tandy Computers

Tandy Computers

Tandy Corporation
Industry Retail
Fate became RadioShack Corporation
Founded 1919
Defunct 2000
Headquarters Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Products Leather
Website none

The Tandy Corporation is a family-owned leather goods company based in Fort Worth, Texas. Tandy was founded in 1919 as a leather supply store, and acquired RadioShack in 1963. The Tandy name was dropped in May 2000, when RadioShack Corporation was made the official name.


Tandy began in 1919 when two friends, Norton Hinckley and Dave L. Tandy, decided to start the Hinckley-Tandy Leather Company, which sold leather shoe parts to shoe repair shops in the Fort Worth area. Tandy's son, Charles D. Tandy, turned it into a leathercraft company when shoe rationing in World War II almost killed the business, and later expanded into selling leather and tools to make such products as wallets. After a struggle over the company, which saw the Hinckley name dropped, Tandy made another change in 1963, when it bought the ailing RadioShack. It later sold off all non-electronic business. The leather business continued, and eventually combined with The Leather Factory in 2000 to become Tandy Leather Factory.[1]


Tandy was one of the companies (along with Commodore International, Atari, and Apple) that started the personal computer revolution in the USA, with their TRS-80 (1977) and TRS-80 Color Computer ("CoCo") (1980) line of home computers. Later Tandy adopted the IBM PC architecture. Tandy's IBM PC compatibles, the Tandy 1000 and Tandy 2000, were cheaper than the IBM PC and yet featured built-in, and better, sound and graphics. These machines could produce 16-color video and operated two dynamic sine/square/sawtooth sound channels: a non-dynamic sound channel and a dynamic white/pink/brown noise channel. It was only when VGA-standard graphics cards and Sound Blaster sound cards became common in the early 1990s that the Tandy's advanced features became noncompetitive and thus obsolete.

Tandy acquired GRiD Systems in March 1988.[2] Grid Systems was a laptop manufacturer whose products included the GRiD Compass (1982), GridCase (1985), GridLite (1987), and GRiDPad (1990) tablet computer.

Tandy also produced short lived Tandy 1100FD and Tandy 1100HD notebooks. Released in 1989, the 1100 Series was based on the popular NEC V20 processor clocked at 8 MHz. Tandy also produced software for its computers running DOS, in the form of Tandy Deskmate.[3] That same year, Tandy introduced the WP-2, a solid state notebook computer that was a rebadged Citizen CBM-10WP. Eventually, in the early 1990s, Tandy Corporation sold its computer manufacturing business to AST Computers,[4] and all Tandy computer lines were terminated. When that occurred, Radio Shack stores began selling computers made by other manufacturers, such as Compaq. In 1992, the company introduced the Tandy Zoomer, a predecessor to the Palm Pilot, designed by Jeff Hawkins. Also that year, the company produced an interactive, multimedia CD-ROM player called the Tandy Video Information System (VIS). Like the Tandy computers, it was based on the IBM PC architecture and used a version of Microsoft Windows. Tandy even produced a line of floppy disks, and continued producing IBM PC compatibles until the end of the Intel 486 era.

Tandy stores

In 1973 Tandy Corporation began an expansion program outside their home market of the USA opening a chain of RadioShack-style stores in Europe and Australia under the Tandy name. The first store to open was in Aartselaar Belgium August 9, 1973. Initially these new stores were under direct ownership of Tandy Corporation. In 1986 Tandy Corporation formed its subsidiary InterTAN as separate entity though connections between them were still visible. For example, catalog number compatibility was maintained, so the same catalog number in both companies would refer to the same item.

Tandy stores in the UK sold mainly own-brand goods under the 'Realistic' label and the shops were distinguished on the high street by continuing to use written sales receipts and a cash drawer instead of a till as late as the early 1990s. Staff were required to take the name and address of any customer who made a purchase, however small, in order to put them on the company's brochure mailing list, which often caused disgruntlement. A popular feature of Tandy stores was the free battery club, where customers were allowed to claim a certain number of free batteries per year. In the early 1990s the chain ran the 'Tandy Card' store credit card scheme and the 'Tandy Care' extended warranty policies which were heavily marketed by staff.

In 1999 the UK stores were acquired by T2 formed by a former Tandy employe Dave Johnson who continued the RadioShack style theme for a while but these stores have also closed, T2 continues as an on-line retailer stocking a range of RadioShack products and other electronics.

In 2001 the Australian stores were sold to Dick Smith Electronics (DSE), a subsidiary of Woolworths Limited. Most Australian Tandy stores have been closed or rebranded as Dick Smith, and only four Tandy stores remained as of June 2011.[5]

In Canada, the InterTAN stores were sold to rival Circuit City Inc. At that time, the stores were branded as RadioShack, however, because Circuit City lost the naming rights, all RadioShacks were re-branded as "The Source by Circuit City" (now called just The Source). Some have closed.

In 2012 Tandy Corporation Ltd, a UK company, acquired the UK rights to the Tandy brand from RadioShack. It now operates as an on-line retailer of electronic components and kits at tandyonline.co.uk.

Other retail outlets

McDuff Electronics, VideoConcepts

In 1985, Tandy acquired two chains, McDuff Electronics and VideoConcepts. Most of these stores were closed as part of a 1994 restructuring plan, with 33 converted to RadioShack or Computer City Express stores.[6] Remaining McDuff stores were closed in 1996.[7]

The Edge in Electronics

The Edge in Electronics, a now-defunct chain of boutique stores geared toward mall customers interested in fashionable personal and portable name brand electronics, debuted in 1990 and had 16 stores as of December 1993. One of the last stores open closed its doors in San Antonio TX in 2001.

Incredible Universe

The Incredible Universe concept was Tandy's attempt to compete with other electronics giants such as Best Buy and Circuit City; the first two stores, located in Arlington, Texas and Wilsonville, Oregon, opened in 1992. Each Incredible Universe store stocked more than 85,000 items, and the stores' sales personnel did not work on commission. Sales were below average compared to Tandy's profitable RadioShack line, and by late 1996, the company had decided to sell or close all 17 Incredible Universe stores.[8] Many Incredible Universe stores were acquired by Fry's Electronics.

Computer City

Computer City was a supercenter concept featuring name-brand computers, software and related products; by the end of 1993, Tandy had 40 locations, including three in Europe. The Computer City stores were later sold to CompUSA.

O'Sullivan Industries

In 1983, Conroy sold O'Sullivan Industries to Tandy Corporation. In 1994, Tandy Corporation offered O'Sullivan as a public company. In 1999 O'Sullivan was purchased for about $350 million by investment group OSI Acquisition, an affiliate of Brockman, Rosser, Sherrill & Co., L.P. (BRS).

Coppercraft Guild

In 1973, Tandy launched a subsidiary company called Coppercraft Guild, which sold solid copper knicknacks and housewares through a network marketing channel. Most notable were the "Franklin Cups" which were based on a design by Benjamin Franklin, sold in packs of six. The products were attractive and well designed, but the product line folded after about five years. Coppercraft Guild items are still popular with collectors on eBay.

See also

Dallas portal
Companies portal


External links

  • Company History, Radio Shack Corporation
  • Tandy & TRS-80 Computer Catalogs, Radio Shack Catalogs
  • Handbook of Texas Online
  • Who was Charles David Tandy? (1918-1978)
  • Handbook of Texas Online
  • Tandy Leather Factory, since 2000