RIP John Roach, who led Tandy’s charge into the PC market

The big picture: John Roach, a key figure in helping popularize the home computer in the late 70s, died this week at the age of 83. Roach joined the Tandy Corporation in 1967 at a time when it still focused exclusively on leather goods. The newcomer had experience working with mainframes in college years earlier, and convinced Tandy executives to offer a pre-assembled computer to the masses through RadioShack, a near-bankrupt company it had acquired a few years earlier.

The TRS-80 (short for Tandy RadioShack) debuted for $599.95 at RadioShack stores across the country as one of the few affordable, fully assembled machines on the market.

The computer was a hit, and came at just the right time as Tandy was in the middle of a sales slump. Within just a few years, Tandy represented 40 percent of the small-computer market. Roach became chairman and CEO after the death of Charles D. Tandy, and held the position until he retired in 1999,

Tandy in 2000 changed its name to RadioShack. It’s mostly been a downhill slide for RadioShack ever since filled with bankruptcy proceedings and memorabilia auctions. The company was most recently acquired by Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV) in November 2020, who plans to turn it into a cryptocurrency-focused business.

Roach died on March 20 at a hospital in Fort Worth. No cause of death was given. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Image credit Amy Peterson, TCU

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