967 – Sleepy Armatron – Radio Shack Catalog 1983
A pleasant papery ponder into the past will page you off to dreamland.
- Continental Fashion Phone
- Wall Weather Station
- The Rocking-Horse Winner by DH Lawrence
- TV on the Radio
Notable Talking Points:
- Rocking Chair Logic Questions
- The Color Supreme Line
- You could start a podcast back in 1983
Episode 967 – Sleepy Armatron – Radio Shack Catalog 1983
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Friends beyond the binary, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and my patron peeps; patron peeps, this is an episode style…I guess we kinda recorded one of these before in the past. I don’t want to tease it out too much ‘cause I haven’t recorded it. I think I’m gonna record it tomorrow but…so yeah, hopefully you’re in for a treat. What do you say we get on with the show?
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing? Trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. Alls you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press play. I’m gonna do the rest. What I’m going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you could set aside whatever is keeping you awake, whether it’s thoughts, so things on your mind that are going through your head, physical sensations or feelings; anything emotionally you’re experiencing. Whatever’s keeping you awake. It could be some of those things, it could be changes in time or temperature or routine or something situational, anticipation or decompression.
Whatever it is, I’d like to take your mind off of that. What I propose to do…and let me know what you think about this or see if you could say well, I don’t know; let me see how it goes. I’m gonna…I got a safe place here. I’ve smoothed it, I’ve patted it, I’ve rubbed it down, then I’m gonna send my voice across the deep, dark night. I’m gonna use lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones. Oh-so creaky are my tones. So, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, so those are where I go off-topic as you’ve already seen a few times, superfluous tangents. I’m gonna get mixed up, I’m gonna go off-topic all to keep you company while you fall asleep. Now if you’re new, a couple things I want you to know; this podcast is very different, so let me give you a couple pieces of…I don’t know, helpful experience from long-term listeners.
This is the wisdom of long-term listeners they’ve passed on to me to pass on to you. That sounds like a joke but it’s not. One is that this is a podcast you just barely listen to. You almost listen to it passively or not at all, or…but it’s weird; you can kind of actively listen or you can shift your listening modes depending on what your needs are. But you kinda find that out as you become a regular listener. So, when you first start out, it’s kinda the idea that you’re just kinda barely listening. If you’re listening closely and anticipating the show getting started or going somewhere or making sense, that could be a little bit…you say okay, it’s…here’s the thing; some people sit in a rock…rocking chairs have kind of…have they fallen out of favor or are they just not as popular anymore? I don’t know. I don’t have a rocking chair in my home.
There was a glider rocker when my daughter was born but it ended up that actually the yoga ball worked better, or the couch. That’s not a knock on glider rockers but a rocking chair is something I guess steeped in nostalgia but if you were sitting in it, you’d be rocking back and forth, right? Or you’d be…you could be sitting there. I think that’s the problem with rocking chairs, is they don’t have a lot of…they’re not good for just sitting around. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen…and when people try and make plush rocking chairs and they say well, this is a recliner with some rocking action. Well, we’ve gone far-field already ‘cause I could talk about this for hours. But I was just thinking if you sit in a rocking chair, you kinda know what you’re in for. You’re like, this chair ain’t going anywhere except back and forth.
That’s kinda like this podcast. It goes a little bit more than back and forth but as you become a regular listener, your expectations of a rocking chair are limited. No offense, rocking chairs. I mean, I’m no D.H. Lawrence so I’m not gonna start…I don’t need to go down…that’s a whole different situation and that’s not even a chair. But so now my mind’s even more confused. My mind’s like why’d you bring up…? I say well, just ‘cause a…you say what, is D.H. Lawrence responsible for all rocking-based fiction? I’d say no. I mean, I’m sure there’s rock and roll or rock-based fiction but when you have a rocking object…then I’m thinking about sitting in it. So, I don’t know, that’s one thing, is just to passively listen or…I tried to create an analogy and it went exactly the way it was supposed to, just like that was a Sleep With Me analogy.
I tried to make a non-Sleep With Me analogy and it became a Sleep With Me analogy, so that’s perfect. So, just barely listen. The other thing is this podcast really doesn’t put you to sleep. It’s here to keep you company while you fall asleep which is different in the sense that I’m only here to keep your mind off of stuff. The reason the episodes are about an hour is so you have plenty of time to fall asleep. I’m here to be your companion in the deep, dark night, your bore-friend, your bore-bae, your bore-cuz, your bore-sib, your bore-bestie, your bore-bruh. I’m here to be your bore-bud and take your mind off of stuff. The episodes are over an hour so you have plenty of time to fall asleep. So, those are two things that throw new people off. It takes two or three tries to get used to.
That’s what repetitive people say over and over again. I literally just read a review where someone heard about the podcast a year ago, listened once, said oh boy, not for me, then came back, listened again and said hm, still not for me but I’ll listen to it; pleasant enough. Then the next night said hm, it’s pleasant enough; might as well listen again. Then the third night they became a regular listener. That’s a pretty circuitous path to get to it but I don’t know, is that what it’s like being in a rocking chair? I think it is because here’s the thing; not everybody…I mean, there are rocking chair stereotypes, right? You got the Hitchcockian use of rocking chairs which we won’t get into, and then you have older adults, and then that’s it.
You say okay, well, if we broaden our view of who could sit in a rocking chair, anybody who’s into sitting…you would still say…so if we said the whole planet…this would be a logic question on a standardized test; you say if the whole planet could sit in a rocking chair, then I guess the next question would be would the whole planet sit in a rocking chair? No. But they…if they could, then we would know who would, right? Right? You say okay, wow, I’m impressed by this data of the people that like sitting in rocking chairs. There is a percentage of the planet that does like it. I guess what was…I don’t even know where…at what point…I thought I was almost to a point and then I said…but give it a few tries, is that what I was saying? Then it’ll grow on you? But just see how it goes. That’s one thing.
The other thing that could throw new people off understandably is the structure of the show. It even throws regular listeners off. The show starts off with a greeting; friends beyond the binary, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls so you feel seen and welcome. Then we have business and listener support, resources for you, resources so the show can stay free, and sponsors. Then there’s the intro. The intro goes from minute six or minute eight to around minute twenty and the intro introduces the podcast, obviously. That’s why I call…it’s called an intro. It could be called a show within a show. It could be…I don’t know what we’d call it though other than the intro; the extra rambles. But it serves a secondary purpose for regular listeners or even new listeners, is that it slowly gives you some distance from the day.
It slowly helps you wind down and a lot of regular listeners use it as part of their wind-down routine whether they’re getting ready for bed or they’re in bed getting cozy or they’re doing some sort of other relaxing activity. So, the idea of the intro is that for us that can’t sleep or have issues falling asleep or waking up or stuff, it’s not some quick fix. It’s not a switch that gets…it’s like a dimmer. Yeah, I’m like…I’m a slow dimmer and yes, I’m dim. My brain just said that. Oh, boy. So, that’s why the intro goes on and on and on, is to help you ease into bedtime. There is 3% of regular listeners that skip ahead to twenty minutes and start the show there and kinda just see where it starts.
There’s people that listen all night, there’s people that start the show in the middle of the night, there’s people that listen during the day while they work or they need a break. So, you could kinda see what works for you and go from there. That’s the intro. Then after the intro is [00:10:00] our sponsors and that’s just kinda the structure of podcasts, is that’s called the middle of…it’s the mid-roll even though it’s not the middle of the show. So, those are two more of the sponsors that help keep the show free. Then there will be our story. Tonight it’ll be a new thing we’ve only done in one other style before, and I haven’t recorded it but I’m thinking I’m gonna look through some old catalogs and I’ll have to explain what a catalog is. That’s gonna be exciting, sleepy stuff.
I’m sure there’s people that are like, what do you mean people don’t know what catalogs are? I say well, I mean, it’s not a…catalogs…and soon, in two generations it’ll…it will be history. I’m not trying to say that in a good or bad way but I say there’s still some catalogs that are around but for the most part, that’s just not a thing anymore. But I said well, let’s look back at some and just see where it goes ‘cause we went…one time we looked through old HBO guides and that was…that turned out pretty well. That was a popular episode. So, we’ll see how that goes, so that’ll be the story. That’s the structure of the show, then there’s some thank-yous at the end, thanking listeners who do stuff to help the show out. I think that’s it.
I mean, the only other things to know is I make this show because I’ve been there and because you deserve a good night’s sleep. You deserve a place you can rest and get some sleep, and that’s important to me because it means our world will be a better place if your world’s a better place, if you’re able to inhabit your world a little bit more. It gives me purpose, so I’m glad you’re here. I work really hard. I yearn and I strive and I really want to help you fall asleep. Thanks again for coming by and here’s a couple ways I’m able to bring this show free twice a week.
Alright everybody, this is Scoots here and I think I probably talked about it in the intro; this is an experimental episode in some sense and I don’t even know if the technology’s gonna work, so I may have to…who knows? This is interesting stuff. So, this is a episode I thought of not that long ago. It may have popped into my head in the past and this could be something that is a two-or-three-time-a-year-style episode because I know we did it in another sense and it worked. So basically…let’s see, how do I explain all this? I think it was…so, this is what, Jan…oh, February 3rd I’m recording this. You’re hearing it far in the future but at some point in the last three or four days I was walking around and I was having different discussions with people and…oh no, and I was reading this newsletter.
Funny, ‘cause I was just talking about the Patreon newsletter in something I recorded before this but…and the person mentioned the Radio Shack electronics kit or just an electronics kit. It was probably somebody…my generation may be on the cusp of the generation before me but they were talking about that and it reminded me of Radio Shack catalogs. That reminded me of other catalogs. I think actually it wasn’t a Radio Shack catalog; it was just a Radio Shack sales flyer for the holidays. This is a little bit consumerist but it’s interesting in dissecting it in a way, ‘cause I used to…when people say thirst nowadays or they used to say that four years ago, I would look through this thing and I would be like, I gotta get a chemistry set or I gotta get an electronics kit or I gotta get this thing.
Oh boy, it’s gonna change everything. Then there was…and I’ll explain a little bit more about catalogs, those of you that aren’t of my generation, ‘cause I want to keep you included of course, but also…and maybe to people that are my parents’ generation to kinda put some things in perspective, too. Then we can kind of…we’re all here in the big, dark night. What is that? What do I call it? The deep, dark night together. But so, there were other catalogs that I would look through, so let me define a catalog because there still are some catalogs that I come in contact with. I don’t get any more of them. Well, maybe I get one, and so I’d…and…so, the two I’m thinking of that you may be familiar with are the IKEA catalog which is still pretty popular, and I don’t know…you can pick it up at the store.
I think they mail it to some people or if you live in a big apartment building, sometimes there’s a stack of them there. Then in podcasting, which I don’t think I get one of these catalogs, but I live in an apartment building or apartment that’s had some turnover, and so I still get a lot of mail from previous residents to my apartment. One of those people gets a catalog from an electronics company or a audio/visual company. They get the Sweetwater catalog. So, that’s a popular one, or B&H, B&H Photo in New York is another big catalog. I’m surprised I don’t get one of those ‘cause I don’t…I’ve bought stuff from Sweetwater and B&H before, even from B&H in the last few months when…had they…had it in stock or a little bit better deal of something I needed.
Those are companies that sell equipment for bands…guitar…similar to what you’d buy at Guitar Center, and a video store. So, they’re a combination of Guitar Center and then if you were in video production…a lot of this…what they sell is prosumer but they do sell pro-level stuff, too. With a podcaster, I mean, a lot of stuff you can buy from the big consumer company but sometimes those companies have a better price or a better…sometimes they have a better selection or better stock, so if you’re looking for a camera or a microphone or…what else did I buy? I think I bought a…my…both my computers. I’m not sure…no, Apple outlet is where I bought my…but so, those are catalogs and when I say catalog, it means something that’s in color, we’re talking hundreds of pages.
I can’t think of any other ones that I get or that I’ve even come across in my own life in the last long time. But those are two if you say Scoots, what’s a catalog? But before the computer…before the internet…and the internet’s kinda…I’m sure…I think it’s a good thing. You say okay, that’s a lot of paper. Even if it’s recycled paper, then you got the ink or whatever. It’s not…I mean, so that’s one side of it. But you say it’s not very efficient, either. Even the B&H or Sweetwater catalogs, it’s cool to look through them occasionally but it’s not super efficient. I would say with the IKEA catalog, it may have some efficiency just because you’re trying to design a room and sometimes having it…like a hard copy…and you can look through it in the room you’re in, it does have some utility.
But when I was a child, I guess was…when…that was before we had the internet so you couldn’t go searching for stuff or then you had basic online stuff as I got a little older into high school or whenever I got into getting online, but whatever. So, you used to get…there was catalogs and sales flyers. Now, sales flyers are still a thing. Costco sends me one at least every other week. Then we get the ones for the grocery store and the fast food places in our mailbox, but so…but catalogs and sales flyers were the main way other than going to the store. You could see products and I think people used to buy them. I know when I lived in LA, I think it was JCPenney…so, I lived in East LA and my landlord, she was a long-time employee…I think…maybe it was JCPenney or Sears, and they had a big catalog distribution.
I think they had just closed it down or she had just retired. Probably they had just closed it down ‘cause that would have been on the waning of the catalog business. But so, they would send these to your house. Sometimes you would sign up and then sometimes they would just send them out prospectively. I’m sure they could have used algorithms back then because they probably would have benefited by probably saying no, these are the people that are most likely to…these are the people whose buying habits you say okay, focus catalogs on them. They like buying through catalogs. Then they said these people, if you send them a catalog, they’re less likely to buy through a catalog but actually it’s still worth it because it actually drives business to the stores. Then they say okay, and then this…whatever they said.
Then there’s another style of consumer that says no, they just want to buy in-person. They don’t need a catalog. But catalogs were a thing well before my time and I mean, they were a business in…like a mail order business, I think. I don’t know. I’m not gonna get into the history of catalogs just ‘cause that’s a whole ‘nother thing. But so, I said to myself…because we did this HBO episode a long time ago now where I looked through…I collected a bunch of…[00:20:00] so, HBO, they didn’t send a catalog but they sent a monthly mini magazine with what was on HBO, similar to TV Guide but just HBO specific. You could look through there and they had hey, what’s coming up, but also a guide of what was gonna be on. It was part marketing, part utility.
I looked through a bunch of those trying to figure out when I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark and just…I said oh, that would be interesting if we could look through some catalogs. So, what I’m gonna do is…you won’t hear me pause the thing. Hopefully it’ll be a split second, but I’m gonna pause it. I tried to get some archives of some catalogs and I don’t know how well this is gonna work, if the technology’s gonna work, because…also, this is…when I’m recording this in 2021, Flash and those kinda things…different ways of relaying information through browsers has changed. A lot of these sites were older so I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it or pull it off. I mean, I’ll pull it off; if it’s not today, I’ll pull…I’ll do some work and create a gallery or…photo gallery and do it myself. But so, I’ll be right back with a catalog and we’ll go through it and just see how it goes. What do you say?
Okay, cool, so this one worked, I think. We’ll see, but this is from 1983. So, I was just a wee lad back then but I saw this one and my eyes lit up. I said holy cow, there’s a lot to go through here. I think this will be interesting with pricing and thirsting and my daydreaming; you’ll be able to see when my daydreaming…but it would be cool to have a time machine ‘cause there’d probably be good stuff for recording a…you could have had a pod…if you were a podcaster you could go back in time. You could really make something. So, this one is the Radio Shack Christmas Sale and Gift Catalog. Looks like it’s forty-eight pages. It’s from 1983. I’m getting this from radioshackcatalogs.com. That’s how I’m viewing this. Radio Shack…I think they would…these would come in the Sunday paper.
This was before I was a paper boy but…what it has is a green Christmas tree with different levels of gifts against a red background. The tree is green and the top is a TV. It looks like it also has a VHS tape. If you’re under forty, not a TV like you can imagine. The second tier is an electronics kit which we’ll talk about. The third tier is some toys on the left and then some calculators and clocks on the right. Then the fourth tier on the left is…this was the era of clock radios, and then something like a radio with a big speaker but not what I would call a boom box. But there is a boom box coming. Then on the other side is a microphone and headphones like you would use for singing or in all honesty, podcasting.
I’m not sure; it looks like it might be…the mic might not be good for podcasting just ‘cause…just because if where you record podcasts isn’t normally a house or an apartment. But we’ll talk about that. Then on the next level is a CB and some scanners, maybe, or walkie-talkies. Then in the center is two…actually, it’s always two-channel; a stereo cabinet, then next to that is an electronics tester and I think rechargeable batteries. Then below that is a little bit nicer stereo system with a record player. In the middle is some cassette tapes and 8-track tape, maybe. Then next to that is what you would call a boom box. Not the biggest boom box, with a cassette player, radio, and two decent-sized speakers. Then below that is an 8-track player and next to that is one that we’ll talk about a lot because it was in my house.
I don’t know what it’s called, though. No…huh, I don’t know what it’s called, though. It’s a thing you would talk into and it would amplify your voice. It’s typically used as a device in movies for gym teachers or principals. Bull horn; that’s what it’s called. It might have a different thing. Then next to that is a telephone…a touch tone telephone and then a answering machine. Then below that are computers but not any computers like you’ve seen. A laptop or laptop word processor, a couple of them, and then a desktop, and then something like some sort of printing…like accounting calculator. So, yeah, let’s go to page…let’s go to the next page, hopefully. Page 2. Hopefully I can zoom.
Okay, so this one…I remember seeing this thing and I don’t know how many years Radio Shack had it but this was a computer and it was called the Model 100. America’s gift sensation, the micro executive workstation. It’s the first portable computer with built-in programs, self-contained direct-connect telephone modem with auto-dialer, easy to read 8-line by forty characters LCD display. The memory can be expanded up to 32k. The 8k RAM model…so just to kinda…8k; I have no idea how small that is but the RAM on…I think most phones have at least between one and eight gigs of RAM. 8k is a thousand. So, that one’s $799 and then the 24k model is $999. I used to look at this thing and it’s actually not as ridiculous as it sounds.
I don’t know how well it worked ‘cause it is about…a little bit bigger than a keyboard with a small screen built right into it. It seems sensible. There’s also the TRS-80 Model 100; it’s one of the most talked-about, most-wanted computers ever. True portable, works on batteries or AC adapter optional. Small enough to fit in a briefcase yet powerful enough to be a desktop micro computer. It has five built-in management programs, personal word…plus personal…with word processing, full-sized typewriter keyboard, appointment calendar, address book, phone directory, and telephone auto-dialer, and you can write your own basic programs. You could access national information services with the built-in thing. Oh, the 8k memory expansion…so you’re better off just buying the 24k.
Oh no, that’s memory versus RAM. Maybe it only has RAM, though. But the memory expansion installation’s required and it was $119. So, I remember looking at this thing, so I don’t know…like I said…but I just remember saying man, this thing, that would change my life. I don’t think it would have. I know there’s people that learned BASIC and had a lifetime of success after it but I don’t think I was willing to learn BASIC. I tried to take BASIC…you probably heard about the time I embarrassed my mom when I went to computer camp. So maybe we’ll talk about that again. But then they have another…our most powerful pocket computer. That one’s a super-saver; $149.
That’s a TRS-80 model Pocket Computer PC-2, a small computer with big computing features, ready to run software, requires interface and recorder or program it yourself. Extended BASIC language. Can’t really read it much else…on it but that one’s $150. Then there’s stocking stuffers. There was the Model PC-4 with BASIC language, expandable, 400…544-character memory, so the memory on the computer could only hold 544 characters. But again, there’s people…like, Stephen King I think wrote a lot of books in a word processor like this. I mean, like the first one I mentioned. There’s the PC-4 cassette interface. That needs two AA batteries. There’s the PC-4 printer. That’s $79. Pocket Computer Model PC-3; that has a 24-character LCD.
That’s ninety-nine bucks and that has a printer interface…cassette interface. That’s $119. These were a lot of things on the cover, then this one; save $20 on the PC-2 printer, plotter, dual-cassette interface. I don’t think…I don’t know what cassettes they’re talking about though, but it’s four-color [00:30:00] graphics, plot…four-color graphics and print upper and lowercase characters in nine sizes. Use one or two recorders for increased input and versatility. So, that’s cool. Then over here they have their first…one of their computers. I don’t know if it was their first computer. This is pretty cheap; it plugs…you need to plug it into a TV and it had eight colors, attaches to any TV, 4,000 characters of internal memory. That’s the TRS-80 Micro Color Computer. That’s only $79.
I mean, seriously, when you think about the pricing on other stuff…give someone you know a head start in computing. Typewriter-style keyboard, real keys; not a plastic overlay. Learn to program with built-in BASIC, comes with a tutorial. Could get a dot matrix printer with graphics for $99, TP thermal, and you could get the whole system for $184, so that’s…you’re saving…wait, 99 plus 79…oh, ‘cause it comes with the cables, too. It used to be once upon a time you couldn’t get printer cables for…another way they made money. ‘Cause I was like, 99 plus 79 is 180, so yeah, they’re giving you the cable for four bucks. That’s not a bad deal. There’s also TRS-80 accessories. What do they got? Five-and-a-quarter-inch unformatted discs for about five bucks or you could get a ten-pack for forty bucks.
Disc drive head cleaning kit; thirty bucks. Computer cassette tapes; that was a thing. Those were — depending on the quantity — three to…two to three bucks. Okay, and then we get into the programs. I don’t know if…this was probably…this was before the computer we had, TI99-4A, but let’s see, so they had educational computer programs, Taxi, a cooperative strategy game. That was 1995, so computer games have always kinda been the same. Star Trap, Peanut Butter Panic. Cooperative strategy pays off. Grover’s Number Rover, basic skills games for ages three to six. These are all twenty bucks. They’re from the CCW; Children’s Computer Workshop from the creators of Sesame Street. Ernie’s Magic Shapes, Big Bird’s Special Delivery, and Cookie Monster’s Letter Crunch. Then they had ones from Disney, too.
$34.95, though. So, talk about stuff that has not…I mean, I don’t know anything about inflation so I don’t want to talk about it. They had Math Adventures with Mickey; Mickey Mouse teaches methods of problem-solving. Ages nine to thirteen. Space Probe Math for ages seven to fourteen. Then they had big holiday savings on these action-packed TRS-80 color computer games, up to 50% off. Reactoids, Gomoku, and Renju, Canyon Climber, Chess, Dino Wars; put your dinosaur against another in a duel. These games are all under $20. Space…defend the earth. Some of these are imitations of other games. Art Gallery; draw color pictures. $29.88. Polaris, Wildcatting; that’s one word, Wildcatting. Bring in a gusher. I think it’s a oil-drilling game.
Carnival game, Popcorn; catch the popcorn with five frying pans before it hits the conveyor belt. I think that’s probably like that root beer game. Audio spectrum analyzer; test stereo equipment for performance. Super Burst Out, Microbes, Project Nebula, and Color Cubes. Then they also have add-ons; the multi-pack interface. Connect up to four program packs at once. That’s $179. I guess these are all in…what do you call them? Cartridge forms. Then joysticks; they were $24. Oh yeah, here’s their Color Computer 2. I don’t know if this…this must have been…I don’t know when, but the Color Computer 2 is a great gift idea. It’s a super-saver. The 16k one is $159 and the 16k extended basic one is $239.95. I don’t know what the difference is.
Simple one-line commands…I think it just has the more…it’s more advanced. Then they have the whole system, the TRS-80 Color Computer System for advanced applications. So, that comes with the extended basic computer…two disc drive kit and a computer OS 9 color computer disc operating system. That’s $869. Actually, they have computer camp. I didn’t go to one at Radio Shack. I went to one at…I don’t even know, probably some parks and rec, but this one was held over Christmas break; 26th to the 30th. They had logo camp for ages eight to eleven, Basic camp ages twelve to fifteen, Basic camp for adults. It was $50 per student. I mean, people said yeah, Basic back then, it meant something different. Then they have phones.
They had a personal phone which was a junk phone that a lot of people that I know had as a second phone. As Seen on TV; that was 1995 on sale. Then they have some press button and rotary phones, which we had a rotary phone for a long…all my friends had…and I guess when I think about it, it’s like it didn’t really make a difference. But a rotary phone…you say how much was a rotary desktop phone they see in the movies? Forty bucks. What about one on the wall? Sixty bucks. I think the one in the…I would have valued the rotary desktop one more. A wall press-button one; $70. Desktop press-button one; $70. A slim version; $40, and a slimmer…oh, depending on how you dial, forty bucks. Then they had a little bit higher quality one press-button, push-button phones.
Theirs were called trim phones, I think. Those were around seventy bucks. I say man, phones…I thought phones would have been cheaper than that. Then they have a whole line of fancy phones, an elegant gift with European flair. Give a continental fashion phone, and that was trademarked. They have the French style which combines classic design and quality components, continental-style ringer and ornamental handset. Those were — depending on you what it to look like — between $50 and $70. Then they had the French continental. That one was $70. Then the international…oh wait, hold on. International classique with scrollwork. That was eighty bucks, then the candlestick was sixty bucks.
The candlestick one is the one you see in the movies that looks like a phone on a candlestick, then you pick up the other thing, you talk into one thing and then you listen with another piece. Then answering machines…we won’t spend too much time here but answering machines were around…and they come with messaging tapes, some with remote controls. $50, $120. They’re with a single knob. That’s a duo…these were duo phones. $180 for voice-activated circuitry. Stops recording when caller stops speaking. Yeah, so you could spend…wow, no wonder we didn’t have an answering machine. Answering machines are expensive. Amplifiers to talk hands-free. They have the one that used to be in the movies; that thing was thirty bucks. I thought it worked good. Then there was another one that was fifty bucks.
Then they had auto-dialers, like if you wanted to auto-dial people, like push-button that remembers their numbers. Those were around…for thirty-two numbers, $60. For sixteen numbers, $50 and for ninety-three numbers, $120. Then this was back when we had antennas, so…and I think this was when cable started but people still used the antennas, so these are add-ons. Perfect…picture-perfect gifts. The stabilizer…I could use this in my life right now; a stabilizer and a modulator. I mean, I’d install that on me right this moment. It’s only $60; two knobs. That’s when you’re eliminating roll and jitter from [00:40:00] pre-recorded videotapes but if it removes roll and jitter from me…you could also use it to add a second video component.
They had a color video processor which collect…corrects color and balances for washed-out video. It was $100, then they had a stabilizer, enhancer, and modulator. I would definitely upgrade to that if they could put that in me. High-frequency details, clarity; increases clarity. Contrast, reduces noise, internal noise, process video. You can actually separate…the fader control separates scenes for easy editing and that’s $100. Then they had different other things. Cable TV block converter with fine-tuning. Allows recording of one channel while watching another. Holy cow, $29.95. This one offers a solution to video confusion. Video selector with five inputs. So, this was still…this was a problem even back then. Then indoor antennas, the Color Supreme III; that says that they’ll see New Years parades like never before.
That’s $29.95. The Color Supreme II, so you’re taking a step back; $24.95. Might as well upgrade for five bucks, right? Then the Color Eagle II; that’s a low-cost gift of television…for television. Satin brass VHS dipoles with UHF loops, color-coded leads for easy hookup; $19.95. Then they had these things which we had one…a weather radio which just plays the weather. People still have those. They’re around forty or fifty bucks. They had one weather radio cube; that was popular. $17.95. They also had…this one’s on sale for Christmas; $24…it was a wall weather station specially priced for the holidays. Accurate indoor and…temperature and a hydrometer…hydrog…whatever, for humidity, and a weather radio with…crystal controlled. Reception up to fifty miles and a wood grain finish. $24…that’s 17% off.
Then they had stylish tabletop radios, the realistic MTA-11. That’s $50. Six-and-a-half-inch speaker. Then the realistic MTA-8 was a radio that thinks it’s hi-fi. Doesn’t say how high the speaker is but walnut and vinyl. The other one was rosewood vinyl. Then the Realistic Compact, that’s a three-inch speaker, $16.95. Then they had other radios. This is like, radio was the main thing back then. Let’s see, 5 band…wow, so you could listen to television, sound on TV 1, TV 2, AM, FM, VHA…VHF high for $59.95, also a 5 band bigger one that was eighty bucks, a 4 band. So, a TV channel’s two to thirteen. $29.95. Man, I would have loved that back then. I had no idea you could listen to TV on the radio. I mean, I’ve listened to TV on the radio before.
You know what I mean, the band, but…4 band portable one, a 9 band communication receiver. This is the DX-360. It’s $100. Give someone new sports entertainment from around the world. Six shortwave bands plus AM/FM, so you could listen to BBC, Voice of America, Moscow…features glidepath volume tone and shortwave band selector controls, tuning, battery LED indicator, built-in speaker, headphone, and DC adapter jacks. That was $360. There was also the Concertmate 8-track player. I don’t see a 8…oh, you put a 8-track cassette in there? Improves stereo separation. Then the DX-400, that’s $300, or you could even listen to CB, ham, everything. Then they had a travel clock radio for $30, then a portable pocket radio that was $13. I might have to skip some stuff.
Then they had walk…portable cassette players, portable radios. A couple Christmas cassettes or stereo LPs. Mickey’s Christmas Carol; $4.99. Christmas Party with Beach Boy Mike Love, Dean Torrence, Jan and Dean, Paul Revere and the Raiders; $4.99. A gift of Christmas; Barbra Streisand, Engelbert Humperdinck, Johnny Mathis, Gene Autry, Andy Williams, Mitch Miller, and more; $4.99. Micro headphones; $9.95. Then they have cassette recorders. It was packed with special features. Then they have recording stuff; recording tape and microphones, they had 8-track tape…that’s not the 8-track you put in your car, though. They had super tape, so low-noise reels for reel to reel, mini-cassettes, cassette tapes.
Let’s see what these mics and stuff…the Realistic PZM; breakthrough, revolutionary design, eliminates echo, superior clarity, ideal for use in large rooms and on stages. 20 to 18,000 Hz response, mounted on a metal plate; $40. There’s a binaural amplified listener, dual-pattern electric for video cameras; $49.95. This is like a boom mic or whatever, you know, long mic. Deluxe stereo, two elements. That was $40. Ultra-compact stereo…see, we’d record…I think you’d want to record in mono but they had a binaural mic. Yeah, that was C that I was just talking about. Let’s see how much that was. Dual-head recorder; that was 1995. Okay, so then we get into the dynamic mics. These might be better for recording a podcast. Highball unidirectional. That’s for handheld use; $49.95. An omnidirectional…not as good.
That would be $40. Cardioid pattern one; that’s dynamic. $29.95. Super cardioid; that’s the kind I use. It’s like, only…tries…you only get it…what you’re talking into. $24.95 and the highball omnidirectional…so, you could start a podcast back then. Then they have AM/FM stereo receivers that run from $279 to $600. Wow, holy cow. Also a couple record players with cassette…oh, this is all in one. Those are like, $579 to $350. Then a lot more stereo stuff, so I guess this was the place. A lot of selection too of different styles. There’s one that’s $1,249. That’s $1,249. Comes with a record player, amplifier, cassette player, tower speakers, 65 watts. I’d say man, for even four hundred bucks I’d want 500 watts but this was a different time.
Then $170…then they go down from there, so $1,250, $750, $609, $299, $379, and $569. You could also just buy your speakers from them. They have tons of speakers. Their speakers range from like, Realistic Minimus — my dad might have had those; those were eighty bucks — to even smaller speakers. Then…oh, here’s one that’s cool. This is what you’d seen in the movies; a 10 band wide-range stereographic equalizer. Only $119. I don’t know…it wasn’t an amplifier though; just the equalizer. Then they have these…the shelving speakers, space-saving, three-piece stereo systems; $150, $230, $290, and then yeah, some of them have tape cassettes, some of them have dual cassettes. They all have record players, and then one has 8-track. So, 1983 must have been the end of 8-track…then stuff for your car.
You could get a booming system back in your car, even then. Amplifier; $120. [00:50:00] So, different things. You could put some security in your car for $80 to $20. Radar detectors; those were popular. They were expensive, too. I guess people…between eighty bucks and $170. Then two-way radio gifts for safer, more pleasant driving, a backup CB that you could put on your roof. That was eighty bucks. A built-in CB with Channel 9 priority. We had a car with…that…a used car my parents bought, a used station wagon that came with a CD…a CB built into it. This one is eighty bucks. Then FM headset walkie-talkies for like…oh, these are the ones that kids had on…some of the kids had…or Dustin had it, I think, on…something like this on Stranger Things. A pair is ninety bucks.
Then mobile CB…other CBs between $140 and $200. Then some sort of testers and LCD multi-meters, sensitive 27-range testers, Micronata testers, ACM heater…so, this is the electronics side. AC converters for holidays abroad. So yeah, you could use it for…oh, there’s one you could use for non-motorized appliances, 50-watt converter, 1,600-watt converter, plug-in adapters; set of four. Then values in time for Christmas giving…the Micronata quartz travel alarms, a folding alarm. Those I always thought were cool. That was 1995. Then a LCD travel clock; $12. Miniature travel clock; $10. The old projector clock; that’s still popular where it projects on the ceiling. $40…$34.95. They even had one that was a countdown. Look at this one; the exclusive Vox clock talking alarm. Tells the time hourly.
See, I mean, this is where they were ahead of their time. Perfect gift for someone if they’re…they don’t look at clocks, their sight’s impaired. It’s a 24-hour alarm, announces the time five minutes before sounding. Oh, the alarm does, then delivers a wake-up melody. Timer counts down the time at ten-minute intervals down to ten minutes and then every minute, so that’s what I use one of my smart speakers for. Then LED alarms or clock radios with battery backup. Those range from $20, $21, $19, $14. They had pens with time built into them and calculator…a calculator watch? Great question. $31.95. They have LCD timepieces, stick-on calendar clock…I think teachers would have those. $3.88. Cordless clocks; those were traditional clocks. LECD sport stopwatches; $25.
Oh, you know where I saw one of those stick-on clocks; my dad had one in the car. Let’s see, I’ll try to pick some other stuff. VHS video recorder was $500. A color, portable TV; $300. A portable black-and-white TV that you could put in your thingamajig, your lighter. They had different ones between $190 and $100. Boom boxes ran from $170, $290, $250. So, those were the cost of boom boxes back then. Okay, this was the one I…one of the things I wanted to record…cover, was…in the amps, mics, and musical stuff, the J…number J, the musical power horn. My dad had this and he used it just I think to make…I mean, as a kid, I loved this thing. I thought…and we weren’t allowed to use it except if my dad was holding it. But he would use this everywhere.
He said it was to get our attention, but it’s perfect for sporting events and rallies. Plays everything from college fight songs, 94 preset and 5 programmable tunes. Up to eighty notes per song. Projects your voice up to three hundred feet. Batteries extra. It was $40. My dad had this exact thing. I don’t think he had the shoulder strap, though. But it was a bullhorn, but you could push things and it would go, like, do-do-do, charge. In the hands of a child or a childlike adult like my dad, it was definitely something. Wild, man. Oh, they also had stuff for people…420…they had 420 back then even though people don’t want to talk about it, so strobe lights were thirty bucks, Psycho light bulb with wild flickering action; $4.99. Psycho light color show, a kaleidoscope of color; $9.95. I always wanted that.
Now I kinda…now I have one, a little bit different but same idea. Okay, they had tons of walkie-talkies, yeah, similar to the ones that we see on Stranger Things and those were expensive, like between $40 and $100. They have a few pages of calculators but I wanted to get into these electronic kits before we finish up here, and some toys. I don’t know if…I think maybe I had one of these as a kid but these things were like, before STEM. This is the pre-STEM stuff. These are Santa’s solderless kits that make great gifts. I had a crystal radio one. That’s what I had, for kids and adults that want to learn about electronics. The most popular one was 160-in-one electronic project kit. As Seen on TV; $30. Science fair; 160-in-one electronic project kit. Perfect for hobbyists. Lets students build radios, transmitters, solar telemetry, and more.
They can even experiment with computer circuits or produce electronic effects, all with pre-mounted spring connectors. All projects are solar battery-powered. It came with 186-page manual, seven-segment LED, a code key, and a meter. Then they had a 100-project one that was $12.95, then a 30-in-one that was $14.95, a solar-power one; that was $14.95. A 50-in-one electronic project lab kit; stimulates young minds, radio telegraph, Morse code, and much more. Work with transistors, diodes, resistors, capacitors. Just connect wires to coil springs. Nothing to clean up. There is a digital computer kit for curious youngsters. Learn programming and binary math by building simple circuits. 100 projects cover basic arithmetic, math, electronics, geography, games, and more.
Lighted display with ten…I think I see…maybe I did have the 50-in-one, or somebody did. I know I had the crystal radio one which is down here, so I definitely had that one. That was one of the first ways I listened to Dr. Demento, to be honest with you. They have a 10-in-one electronic adventure lab, an electronic organ kit. Build a tunable organ that plays natural and chromatic musical scales with eighteen keys including sharps and flats and a built-in speaker. 10-in-one adventure lab; two transistor AM radio kit. That…no, no, I didn’t have that one. The two transistor one was $6.95. I had the crystal radio kit. Plays without power. No batteries. AC transistors or tubes. The very first radios converts…crystal converts RF signal into audio. Tunes AM broadcast band with earphone.
I remember that; earphone, and an instruction manual. $4.95. Best $4.95 anybody spent. Then a silicon…I remember loving that thing. Then there was a silicon thing…the solar energy project kit. That was $9.95. They had a 200-project lab that makes learning exciting. If only it did. That one was fifty bucks, though. Then they actually had rechargeable batteries. I remember my dad being into those and having a battery-charging station. Rechargeable batteries [01:00:00] were around five to ten bucks. Battery tester, battery charger…my dad had this, I think; the deluxe battery charger. $30. Then they had more kits. Oh, wait a second; F. What’s F? Motor generator kit. Introduction to electrical energy; $9.95. Let’s see, they had some electronic games. What do they have? A Tandy chess. Tandy chess was $60.
Computerized Backgammon was $60, then they had less expensive walkie-talkies. We had these, too. I think we had the Space Patrol ones. They were a pair for $9.95. Great for around the house and stuff. Or there’s ones with AM/FM radios. Those were $15.95 or there was micro-thin ones that were twenty bucks. Also, there was this wireless FM microphone. That was like…people would show…people going up into their neighbor’s house and interrupting their radio by singing to them. That was only $7. Then we had this…let’s see. Exciting…the Tandy 12 Arcade. I think we only used it for Simon, but that was $20. It was twelve games in one. Baseball…it was just colored buttons. I just remember playing it for Simon but apparently it could play other games. Never knew that ‘til now.
Then they had some basic arcade games. Zacman; Z-A-C-M-A-N, like a portable arcade setup. $34.95, and then Alien Chase with a fluorescent display; $39.95. A football sports game; $19.95. That was very popular. Three fast-paced games for head-to-head…I don’t think I…maybe we did have this one. 1995…then learning games. Show and Learn; $9.95, and then Monkey See, $7.95. They also have a lot of remote-control cars. I don’t know if we…oh, there was a Out of World robot. I think we always wanted this. Maybe one of my brothers had it. It was an inflatable robot. Only went straight and backwards; $19.95. Then they had these helmets. We definitely had this one; it was a fire department helmet with a siren on it. Foam-padded interior, rugged design. Batteries extra. $7.95.
I don’t know if we had anything else on here. Got a couple more pages here. Oh, they had a kiddie phonograph; $24.95. What else do they have? Another phonograph with a singalong mic; $39.95, even a picture of a girl singing along. Portable cassette recorder and player. What is that thing? Realistic CT-64 colorful recorder with strawberry micro-shaped microphone, color-coded controls, hi-tone, built-in speaker jacks, and five tapes. Only thirty-five bucks. Then a couple other ones. I think you could record off the road…radio, easy for youngsters to use. Some portable radios with headphones, portable novelty radios; one is an M-O-U-S-E, an owl, a puppy, a couple dogs, and a cat. Those were around $15. Furry friends that kids love, a high quality AM radio. Then they had novelty radios and a spaceship.
That was a radio? I didn’t know we had a space shuttle, but I don’t think it was…there’s a Heinz ketchup one, a Smurf one, and a Wilson football one, and a globe. Those were all between $12 and $15. They had a bike radio, bike horn…deluxe bike radio with built-in horn. I remember people having that. Archer Road Patrol; $14.95. This was another thing I thirsted for. I guess if I had…I could have just used my own money to buy it. Flavor radios. Just ‘cause they had these popping colors; lemon, orange, blueberry, and strawberry. But they really colored these things…I don’t know, they really did a good job. Those were $5.99 on sale. Then we get to the back page of the sale thing, right on time. They had a Cosmic 3000 game.
Never seen…I don’t even know if I’ve seen that at one of my friends’ houses; $30. Like a portable video game. A headset radio; this one looks pretty not high-quality. That was $17.95. Then a portable football game that was $14.95. They say we brought the manufacturer’s entire inventory so you could buy below 1982 dealer cost of $28.75. Then a game called Pocket Repeat which was the same as Simon. That was $7.95. Then one of the toys I got probably this Christmas was the Armortron and I remember asking…begging for it ‘cause I thought it would change my life. It was pretty fun. I guess it was supposed to be a game. I thought I could use it to manipulate time and space. But it was similar to what you would see as an industrial robotic arm nowadays. Again, very similar now to even what’s in the past.
Generate hours and hours of fun for kids of any age. Introducing them to robotics…this highly manipulable robot arm executes experiments, add sugar to cereal…I should have wrote…I never even thought to try that. I thought I could use it to squeeze my siblings’ fingers or bring me snacks. Two joystick remote-control motions to pick up…energy level countdown meter for timing skills, globe modules, canisters, and cones for practicing delicate things. I never really used those. I think I used…mostly used it for different set pieces with my GI Joes and Transformers and other dolls…action figures…chillaxing and dolls I played with. But it was just a robotic arm with two remote controls. One of the coolest gifts I ever got. Thank you. I appreciate it, ‘cause it wasn’t cheap; $31. I mean, maybe they got it the next year, hopefully on a little bit better price but I appreciate it and I appreciate you taking this journey. Let me know what you think. We’ll take another catalog journey again soon. Goodnight, everybody.
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