Radio Shack Cantel AT&T Cell Phones TV Television Commercial from 1997.
General Wireless Operations Inc. (doing business as RadioShack) is an American chain of wireless and electronics stores, originally founded in 1921 and today owned by the Standard General affiliate General Wireless. It is partnered with Sprint, and most stores are branded as “Sprint” though also selling RadioShack brand items.
At its peak in 1999 it operated stores in the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. On February 5, 2015, the company 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 Mexico. On March 31, 2015, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas approved a $160 million offer by General Wireless, which gained ownership of the “RadioShack” brand and its 1,743 locations, and immediately leased them to Sprint.
The first 40 years
The company was started as “Radio Shack” in 1921 by two brothers, Theodore and Milton Deutschmann, who wanted to provide equipment for the then-nascent field of amateur, or ham radio. The brothers opened a one-store retail and mail-order operation in the heart of downtown Boston at 46 Brattle Street. They chose the name “Radio Shack”, which was the term for a small, wooden structure that housed a ship’s radio equipment. The Deutschmanns thought the name was appropriate for a store that would supply the needs of radio officers aboard ships, as well as hams (amateur radio operators). The term was already in use — and is to this day — by hams when referring to the location of their stations.
The company issued its first catalog in 1939 as it entered the high fidelity music market. In 1954, Radio Shack began selling its own private-label products under the brand name Realist, changing the brand name to Realistic after being sued by Stereo Realist. After expanding to nine stores plus an extensive mail-order business, the company fell on hard times in the 1960s. Radio Shack was essentially bankrupt, but Charles D. Tandy saw the potential of Radio Shack and retail consumer electronics and bought the company for $300,000.