Legendary tech merchant Bernie Appel, who was instrumental in building RadioShack into an iconic national tech chain in the USA, died on Sunday 2nd April 2017 at the age of 85 from congestive heart failure.
The son of Russian immigrants, Appel joined RadioShack as a buyer in 1959, when the company was still a Boston-based catalog business with three stores. Over the next 33 years, as he moved from buyer to chief merchant to president and chairman under visionary leader John Roach, Appel’s sourcing and merchandising prowess helped build the Tandy-backed chain into a neighborhood fixture, with some 7,000 tech shops across the USA. In the UK, Radio Shack branded equipment was available through the Tandy chanin of electronic stores.
Along the way he ushered in the age of the personal computer with the introduction of the TRS-80, and helped open the door to retail sales of telephones by taking on AT&T in a case that went before the Supreme Court.
His work earned him the moniker “Mr. RadioShack,” as well as a TWICE Distinguished Achievement Award in 1994, and entrée into the Consumer Technology Hall of Fame in 2002.
He later told TWICE that his Hall of Fame induction, and the recognition by his peers that it represented, was his most memorable industry moment of the previous two decades.
Appel is welcomed into the Consumer Technology Hall of Fame in its third year by CTA head Gary Shapiro in 2002.
Appel left RadioShack in 1993 to start a marketing consultancy, and remained active in various civic and Jewish causes in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.
RadioShack would go on to face mounting hardships as it searched for a contemporary identity and compelling role in the digital age, and last month filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in as many years.