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

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,137   +154
Staff member
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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dualkelly

Posts: 200   +242
TRS-80 was my first computer as a kid. I still remember trying to get the tape volumes correct so you can run the few games it had. Later on Tandy Midi sound for games was legendary.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 2,147   +2,587
TechSpot Elite
Tandy/RS PCs were big enough by the late '80s and early '90s that when you read the advert copy fine print for PC software compatibility, it would list "IBM- and Tandy-compatible."
 

3ogdy

Posts: 54   +46
May he Rest In Peace.

Roach as a surname though...
Man, who comes up with these surnames?

Like...alright, this shouldn't be a name, it must be a surname.
Let's not do it to one person in particular, but to many generations!
 

p51d007

Posts: 3,149   +2,652
The "trash 80" was one of the first computers I messed with.
Boy how I miss Radio Shack.
As a kid growing up in the 60's-70's, we had a RS in the same shopping complex
as a Walmart. When my parents went there, I just had them drop me off at the
Radio Shack. I could spend hours in that store. And that was back in the day when
they had staff that were "electronic geeks" too! Some of them were amateur radio operators,
so they had an electronic background. As I got older and started tinkering in electronics, I would stop in there to get a component or something and a clerk would ask me what I was
working on. You could get good information from them.
In the early 2000's, before they were gone, I stopped in to pick up an electrolytic capacitor and
asked the clerk where they were. It was like I was talking a foreign language. I then said electronic component. He pointed to where the components were.
All they knew, before RS closed, was phones & computers.
 

AMN3S1AC

Posts: 156   +110
May he Rest In Peace.

Roach as a surname though...
Man, who comes up with these surnames?

Like...alright, this shouldn't be a name, it must be a surname.
Let's not do it to one person in particular, but to many generations!
It means rock.
 

ZedRM

Posts: 1,027   +723
Godspeed John!

Tandy and crew did a lot to shape the PC industry and market in a positive way!
 

Aaron Fox

Posts: 153   +90
Apple just patented the Trash-80's form factor.

It invented an entirely new form factor (by copying one from the 70s)!