Tandy / Radio Shack free torch

Lowglow

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Back when Tandy (UK Radio Shack) first opened it's stores in the UK (in the 1980's) there was a seemingly spectacular offer for a free Super Beam torch. You took a coupon into the store and were presented with your gift.

Screenshot_20231224_114116_eBay.jpg


However it needed 5 D cells which were not supplied. They were expensive too!
Upon loading the batteries you got a bright beam but it was short lived because not only was the bulb only rated for 4.8 Volts (4 cell) the bulb had no holder so the batteries bore directly onto the base of the bulb, crumpling it up and damaging it.

Ours is long gone, but this got me wondering. Was this light available in the US as well? Anyone still running one?

To me, even as a little boy it seemed like a bit of a con to get you to buy batteries which were probably worth more than tge light. But it got everyone excited back then i remember!

if you still have one is it still going?
 

ABTOMAT

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They did that in the in the US too, I think earlier in the '60s-70s. My dad had a bunch of them he got for free back then. I took a couple out of the packages in the 1990s and they didn't work very well; poor contact in the switches.
 

Monocrom

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I've gotten used to the whole "Free gift... with purchase of this item." sort of thing. I guess technically that counts as free. Maybe? But yeah, the above sounds like an absolute con-job. No excuse for that.
 

ABTOMAT

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I've gotten used to the whole "Free gift... with purchase of this item." sort of thing. I guess technically that counts as free. Maybe? But yeah, the above sounds like an absolute con-job. No excuse for that.
Well, it was totally free. If you had your own batteries you were all set.
 

Monocrom

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No holder for the bulb though. So even if you had 5D cells, good luck not damaging the bulb.
 

IMA SOL MAN

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I never bit on that. I think about every RS flyer that came in the mail had an ad for it, or a free battery, or some such nonsense. They had a battery club card, that IIRC, they punched every visit to the store, and on the 10th visit you got a free battery. Whoopee. :rolleyes: I don't think I ever got a free battery on that card deal, but that was like back in the '70s and my memory of such an insignificant thing is not 100%, I'm even amazed I remember about the card. The free battery wasn't even their best, IIRC it was like either a carbon zinc or the heavy duty grade, not the alkaline, but I could be wrong. RS was such a ripoff, low quality, imported goods, but they were handy, because they were everywhere, almost. Kind of the convenience store for the electronic world. :confused:
 

ABTOMAT

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Their actual manufactured stuff wasn't that great, but I'm also old enough to remember when they were a real parts supplier. So you knew they had you covered if you needed a handful of capacitors and rosin core solder on a Saturday night. Says something about my teenage years that I was up to that stuff on a weekend...
 

aznsx

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Their actual manufactured stuff wasn't that great, but I'm also old enough to remember when they were a real parts supplier. So you knew they had you covered if you needed a handful of capacitors and rosin core solder on a Saturday night. Says something about my teenage years that I was up to that stuff on a weekend...
It was a killer resource back in my day. When electronic components and hardware were needed, the only other sources were commercial distributors or in a town with neither, scrounging what I could find at local radio-TV repair shops. There were far fewer of them, and thus more difficult to deal with. Much of the 'hardware' items were indeed very cheaply produced, but I could get by with them. Most of the circuit level components worked, although most were undoubtedly not of highest grade / standards. Some of the complete electronic products (radios, etc.) weren't too bad for the money. I still have an FM tuner which is actually pretty nice, and which I used in my home audio system for years. RS offered '7-11' convenience for many things which made them a natural source for a lot of things. I don't recall ever having an RS flashlight though.

Remember the 'Allied Radio Shack' connection / handle? The Allied catalog was a regular read for me in my younger days, not unlike Gun Digest or the Herters or J.C Whitney catalogs. An (re?)incarnation of Allied (which pre-dated RS) apparently still exists, and recently changed their name to RS;-). Ever see this site?


Here's a little bit of Allied's roots:


Says something about my teenage years that I was up to that stuff on a weekend...

This one had me in stitches, ABTO! So true. Of course, I soon embarked on a 50-year career in the electronics field, so that was just a precursor of what was to come. It would become 'my life'. My obsession started long before my teen years. I never looked back. I then got my first proper VOM at age 12; you guessed it, a 1000 ohms / volt, shirt pocket-sized Micronta from Radio Shack! I would later assemble a VOM kit RS sold, which was actually pretty darn nice. It was no Simpson 260 or the like, but it served its purpose for a while when I was in school. Real time machine stuff in this thread. To use a popular expression: I think I've lived too long!;-)
 
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letschat7

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In the 90s everything looked so interesting there but it all cost so much and I knew so little about what all the parts did.

In the early 2000s however I started buying some flashlights there, surprise surprise! In 2001 or so I got this stamped metal adjustable head 3D light and me and a buddy used it to try to blind motorists. My father wasn;t so pleased and took it away. In 2002 or 03 I bought a penlight that was black with gold accents and took two AAA batteries. This was an EDC light for me.

That year a friend told me about the Anarchist Cookbook which heavily references parts from Radio Shack. I was too late to get into phreaking which is probably a good thing in hindsight but it opened my mind as to what kinds of fun could be had at the Shack.

I remember getting enough components there to finish my sholder fired Estes rocket launcher. I also bought some Maglites there, a 2C and Solitaire. Typically for the time these packages would mention the Red Cross for some reason.

I remember by the time I was on CPF you could find Eton radios rebranded as Grundig and Coast Led Lenser lights for sale. These were the good old days and I didn't even know it.

At some point maybe 2012 or 2013 they sell Vellemann kits and Make sets. At this point I get a little better at putting electronics together as in with an iron and lead rosin core solder. I also got a PS3 there and they were real heavy into the cellphone game. I got a iPhone 4 for 99$ on black friday but it was the wrong colour and the NSA spying was going on so I didn't use it.

When they go out of business in 2015 I picked up some Apple accessories.

I really miss the shack. You never knew what you would find there and it was a fun place to shop.
 

Lowglow

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Still want one of them electronic build kits the ones you connected wires to the springs
I had the 75 in 1. Honestly that thing was pivotal in setting me up for my career in electronics. Its things like that being no longer a common gift that is having a negative effect on up and coming engineers. When you are young you need as much hands-on as possible, absolutely not got through a computer. It's how careers and lifes are forged - the early experiences finding out what you enjoy, are good at and especially what you can learn easily.
 

Lowglow

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Their actual manufactured stuff wasn't that great, but I'm also old enough to remember when they were a real parts supplier. So you knew they had you covered if you needed a handful of capacitors and rosin core solder on a Saturday night. Says something about my teenage years that I was up to that stuff on a weekend...
Same here. Some saw hanging around the back of the sports pavilion using drugs and joyriding between loud house parties as a good teenage life. To me those felt like the opposite of what I wanted, a waste of time with uninteresting people, so I was out at Tandy chatting with the manager, building speaker systems, earning pocket money fixing neighbours electrical items and just enjoying electronics with the few other like minded individuals I knew. Looking back I made the right decision.
 

Monocrom

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That year a friend told me about the Anarchist Cookbook which heavily references parts from Radio Shack. I was too late to get into phreaking which is probably a good thing in hindsight but it opened my mind as to what kinds of fun could be had at the Shack.
Likely for the best. I still have that book in my personal library of controversial tomes. A certain section was clearly written by an incompetent moron. Trying any of the recipes from that section is a great way to unintentionally self delete.
 

bykfixer

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My dad had a Radio Shack 3D Kel-Lite knock off. It had the first gen switch with a mid size head. I tried for a while to find a used one to no avail. I had been exchanging emails with Don Keller at the time so I asked him was it just my imagination or did Radio Shack do that. He confirmed it saying it was "Japanese junk". He said the first gen did not come with a medium head, nor was it an option until the second generation.

A time later he emailed me and said a hollywood movie maker had asked him to make them 10 flashlights. He said he was building first gen's with medium heads and asked if I wanted one. Of course I did. About a month later one showed up at my house made with all new parts and a certificate of authenticity.

I call it "the Kel-Lite knock off of the Radio Shack knock off".
 
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