John Roach, a pioneer of the personal computer, is dead at 83


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John Roach, a marketing and advertising visionary who served make the house personal computer ubiquitous in the late 1970s by introducing the completely assembled Tandy TRS-80 for $599.95 or fewer by means of RadioShack chain stores, died Sunday in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 83.

His demise was confirmed by his wife, Jean Roach. No cause was provided.

Roach previously experienced college knowledge fiddling with refrigerator-measurement mainframes by 1967, when he joined the Tandy, a Texas conglomerate that was launched as a leather goods firm and included RadioShack and its thousands of franchised dealers in electronics farrago.

He was instrumental in prodding Tandy to undertaking into the laptop market place. At the time, most modest personal computers were offered as kits to be assembled by hobbyists, but Roach believed that individuals would welcome a model that they just required to plug in.

His crew presented the initial TRS-80 prototype — cobbled with each other from a black-and-white RCA check, a keyboard and a videocassette recorder — to Tandy’s main government, Charles Tandy, and to Lewis Kornfeld, the president of RadioShack, in January 1977.

The Apple 1 had been introduced the yr just before, and Commodore and other firms had been promoting their have home pcs, but the TRS-80 (the initials stood for Tandy RadioShack) quickly became, for a time, the most well known computer on the current market.

“Charles blew a very little smoke and explained, ‘Build a thousand and if we can not promote them, we will use them in the shop for one thing,’” Roach recalled in remarks to the Fort Worth Executive Round Table very last thirty day period.

“We were lastly capable to ship some machines in September and delivered 5,000 that year, all we could assemble,” Roach claimed. “Our rivals shipped none.”

At just less than $600 (about $2,700 in today’s dollars), the laptop was comparatively inexpensive (it was $399 if linked to a individually owned viewing display). It was accessible in all 8,000 of the company’s stores.

Tandy recruited Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the long run founders of Microsoft, to compose exclusive software package for personalized, household and little-business uses, and for video games. In 1982, to boost laptop and modem income, Roach persuaded The Star-Telegram of Fort Well worth to grow to be one of the first newspapers in the region to go on the net.

The TRS-80 was regarded as so novel that a model was later on acquired for the collection of the Smithsonian Countrywide Museum of American Historical past.

John Vinson Roach II was born Nov. 22, 1938, in Stamford, a rural farming community of various thousand folks in West Texas. His mom, Agnes Margaret (Hanson) Roach, was a nurse. His father owned a meat current market that went out of company due to the fact of rationing throughout Environment War II, and the loved ones moved to Fort Worthy of, exactly where he opened a grocery store.

Young John, a math whiz, calculated the alter in his father’s grocery shop without the need of working with the income sign up. He worked his way through large university unloading box cars and trucks for Montgomery Ward retailers.

He graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in business administration from Texas Christian College in 1961 and then worked for two several years at the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii before returning to the university, exactly where he acquired a master’s in business administration in 1965.

When Roach joined the Tandy Corp. as a data processing supervisor, he reported in an job interview with the university in 2007, “neither the idea nor the imagined of a individual laptop or computer experienced even been conceived.”

The TRS-80 revenue increase arrived just in time to revive Tandy, which had been suffering from a slump immediately after the attractiveness of two-way citizens band radios faded. Just after Tandy died in 1978, Roach became RadioShack’s govt vice president. He was named chief working officer in 1980.

Tandy’s early dominance would wither as opponents developed products that were similarly low-cost or offered more quickly speeds and bigger functionality. By 1991, the company’s share of the domestic dwelling computer marketplace had contracted to 3.5% it experienced been as a great deal as 40%, in 1981.

In the course of the 1990s, when the conglomerate employed 37,500 workers and described yearly income of $4.3 billion, Roach sought to reposition RadioShack more generically as “The Engineering Retail outlet.”

In 1999 he retired as main government and chair of Tandy, positions he had held considering the fact that 1983.

Tandy transformed its title to RadioShack in 2000 and overcame cutthroat level of competition to keep on as an e-commerce web page and franchise operation with the slogan “Shack is again.”

In the 1990s, Roach was chair of Texas Christian University’s board of trustees, serving to to double its endowment to much more than $1 billion, create a know-how center and enjoy a supporting role in Fort Worth’s civic and cultural everyday living. In 2007 the John V. Roach Honors College or university was endowed in his honor at TCU by his close friends Paul and Judy Andrews of Fort Truly worth.

“He was ready to mix his intelligence with judgment,” J. Luther King Jr., his mate and successor as board chair, explained in an job interview. Roach, he extra, succeeded in reworking the university from, “a regional university to a countrywide college.”

In addition to his spouse, Roach is survived by their two daughters, Amy Roach Bailey and Lori Roach Davis 6 grandchildren and a good-granddaughter.

Roach felt personally and professionally comfortable with computers at any time since his school days. Soon before he died, his relatives mentioned, he FaceTimed with his grandchildren and viewed TCU conquer Seton Hall in the NCAA basketball match on the net.

By lita