– not a gold chain, but an electronics retail chain,
which I long cherished in my younger days, here and abroad.
What urged me to blog here was the headline news that I read just today:
The Sad, Tarnished Afterlife of RadioShack’s Name
Yes, from the time I was a teenager, I was a tinkerer: Then, I proudly made my own crystal radio that miraculously picked up waves off the ether and delivered live orchestral music to my headset (Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Suite for Orchestra was the very first piece of music I heard ‘wirelessly’ that I recall to this day decades later.)
Later I toyed with chemistry in my home lab: on one occasion, I placed certain innocuous looking white ‘crystals’ in a jar over a Bunsen burner in a backroom of the family apartment, and much to my parents’ alarm it blew up leaving an unsightly black blob on the ceiling – ah! those were the days to be a tinkerer with the whole world opening up before you at your feet – or overhead! – limited only by the extent of your lively imagination and a few simple tools.
Things have changed mightily since those halcyon days: Before all you had to do was to run down to your local equivalent of RadioShack, rummage around and return triumphantly to your lair with the tools to ply your trade – the art of creation; now, with the advent of the Internet, all you may need to do is to fire up your computer or laptop or tablet and shop online without ever thinking of seeing a live human being or two with whom you may swap ideas and suggestions for upgrading your equipment as cheaply as possible, or picking up the latest electronic buzz.
My crowning achievement was in the late 1990’s when I made a serviceable computer for a non-profit in New Jersey – that I was serving as its Membership Director – for the princely sum of $350, when the going rate for the cheapest IBM of similar capacity was $3,000.
For those not in the know, my iPad snapshot above is of a RadioShack AM/FM Radio circa 2000 . It’s been my trusted companion here and abroad for many moons and untold thousands of miles. Just consider: Whether it’s my daily NPR ‘fix’ during my morning walk, when I pick up the local FM or BBC news in Englewood, NJ; or in Boston, MA on a visit to family, where WGBH picks up for me what I want to hear during my morning shave; or in London, UK, when visiting friends periodically; or in Lucknow, UP, during my biennial visit to my close relatives, where All India Radio (AIR) has all-day AM broadcasts that include regular news bulletins in English and Hindi with fairly substantial segments on foreign affairs; you name it, and I have those news – and on occasion classical Western or Indian music – segments all covered in the palm of my hand. Remember that’s long before the disruptive arrival of Mac-ware and suchlike innovations in our lives!
Of course, I do use the newbies, off and on, but what amuses me are the stares I get when I saunter along the streets in Englewood and elsewhere clutching my ancient (by mod standards) RadioShack AM/FM – my fistful of magical sound! – without caring a fig of what people think I’m doing.
Copyright © 2015 Azim Lewis Mayadas