Beginning at age 11, I spent a lot of time hanging out at two different Radio Shack stores. There, I discovered Leo Christopherson's Dancing Demon and his later gems Duel-n-Droids and Voyage of the Valkyrie. I used to live for each year's Radio Shack computer catalog.Me too. I wasn't a TRS-80 guy, but everything else came from the Shack. I still have a battery club-card somewhere from my early DC motor experiments, which went through D-cells like crazy.
Eventually, I parlayed $600 in horse race winnings (my Dad picked and placed a good exacta bet for me at Hollywood Park) and about $600 in sales from my entire baseball card collection to upgrade my computer to have a 5 1/4" floppy drive. Yes, $1200 for an internal floppy drive.
At one point, a Radio Shack manager paid me $10/hr (a fortune) to manually re-type the entire contents of private investigator Gavin De Becker's client database. He set up two Model II computers side by side and I manually moved his entire database from (I think) Profile Plus to (I think) DBase. Basically, it was a catalog of all the psychos tracking his clients such as President Reagan (prior to his election) as well as a lot of code names, e.g. I think Reagan's was Pigskin.
Another fellow traveler hanging out at Chuck's store was the child star, Josh Milrad, from Beastmaster. I was impressed with his filmography but couldn't take him seriously because he had a Color Computer. I took assembly language classes at Radio Shack and later earned first place in my age category in 80 Micro's Young Programmer's Contest. Radio Shack and its salespeople launched my computing career.
(Image: Science Fair 160 in ONE Electronic Project Kit, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from mightyohm's photostream)