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Why Your Dad Is Mourning Radio Shack

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- If the old guy in the office looks wistful today, or your dad seemed a little nostalgic over his breakfast eggs, the reason may be RadioShack (RSH).

Why should anyone care about a musty, dusty, dying retailer that Tuesday reported an operating loss of $166 million for a single quarter, a $400 million loss for the full year and a 19% decline in same-store sales. One that also plans to close up to 1,100, or about one-fifth, of its stores.

Especially one that our own Herb Greenberg has a "hate affair" with.

Well, it's like this, kid.

Back before Star Wars came out, when Fleetwood Mac was a supergroup, when I had some hair on top of my head and when hobbyists built their own computers from parts, RadioShack was an important place.

It was a local, franchised version of California's Homebrew Computer Club, a place where early geeks, even in Texas or Oklahoma, could gather to swap stories, search for parts and network with one another.

Once Apple (AAPL) defined a retail PC as a TV, typewriter and something like a tape recorder, RadioShack's Tandy brand was in the market with the Tandy RadioShack (TRS)-80, part of the early "trinity" of PC makers alongside Apple and Commodore.

My favorite laptop of all time remains the TRS Model 100.

The Model 100 weighed just three pounds. It had a keyboard with real travel in it, an internal modem, and it ran on AA batteries. In 1985 I could get all my stories written on it, and once amazed an audience in Japan by delivering copy from Tokyo, first to an editor in San Francisco, then one in London. I advertised myself as "Have Modem, Will Travel."

OK, it had only 24 kilobytes (12 pages) of memory, and the "screen" was just 40 characters across and 8 lines down, but it did what I needed done.

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