Lance rides for the Shack

84331781ES004_TOUR_DOWN_UNDSome interesting news involving a hometown company: Fort Worth-based RadioShack will sponsor a cycling team led by Lance Armstrong to compete in the 2010 Tour de France.
In addition to riding for Team RadioShack, Armstrong, who lives in Austin, will compete in running and triathlon events with sponsorship from the electronics retailer. RadioShack will also sponsor the Armstrong Foundation’s Livestrong Challenge Series, a 5K run/walk and cycling event that raises money to fight cancer.
Lee Applbaum, RadioShack’s chief marketing officer, was quoted by the Star-Telegram as saying: “We are relaunching our brand with a new creative platform in early August.”
radio-shack-logoRadioShack over the years has acquired a reputation as a chain of ubiquitous, stodgy stores in malls and strip shopping centers where ham radio operators and computer geeks would go to buy capacitors, cables and connectors. The partnership with Armstrong appears to be part of an effort to update the retailer’s image.
Younger laptop users might not know that RadioShack, formerly called Tandy Corp., was once a pioneer in portable computing. And introduction of its TRS-80 Model 100 in 1983 revolutionized the working lives of foreign correspondents.
radioshacktrs80On home leave in the early 1980s, I picked up two Model 100s at Associated Press headquarters in New York and took them back to the AP bureau in Nairobi, Kenya. At the time, they were wonderful little machines. They had a maximum memory of only 32KB, but that was enough to store a half-dozen news stories of decent length.
Until the advent of the TRS-80, which became known as the “Trash 80,” correspondents in the field had to write their stories on portable typewriters, find a Telex machine — usually in a hotel — make a perforated tape by typing on the keyboard and then feed the tape into a Siemens tape reader that would send the signal down a cable to London or New York. At the other end, on a teleprinter, the perforations in the tape would be translated into letters, words and sentences.
The Model 100 came with an acoustic coupler — two rubber cups into which you would insert the mouthpiece and earpiece of a telephone. Then, all you had to do was dial up a computer somewhere and send your story down the phone line.
At the time, it seemed like magic.


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