Welcome to the "Retail Hall of Fame."
The "Retail Hall of Fame" honors the creators and veterans of the early personal computer retail and mail order market channels. These pioneers recognized and shared the vision that
computer-users will purchase their products from retail centers and mail order across the world. The computer market was driven by computer retailers since the first shipments of PC's in 1975.
Here are a few of the important players in personal computer retailing. If you would like to nominate an addition to our membership please let us know.
Priority One Computers, Northridge, CA
Heath pioneered new concepts in computer retailing in the early 80's with stores throughout California. Priority One also spawned several new popular retail and mail order companies. Heath now lives in SoCal and has a successful forms and supplies business for Podiatrists.
West Coast Computer Faire "Faire Being"
Clearly the most important show was the West Coast Computer Faire, founded by Jim Warren and Bob Reiling. This show basically put the microcomputer on the map. Apple introduced the Apple II, Others included IMSAI, MIT/Altair, Sphere, Processor Technology, Cromemco, Digital Research ( CP/M), Tarbell Electronics, Vector Graphics and Polymorphic Systems. Jim could be seen to be roller-skating around the Brooks Hall while attending to business as the floors were concrete (low budget, no carpeting)
In 1983 the Faire was sold to Sheldon Alderson for $3 million to augment Comdex/Las Vegas.
Elec-Tek, Chicago, Illinois
Founded Elek-Tek in 1979 with his brother Mort. Became one of nations largest computer catlalog houses and eventually taking it public. Hal was a great mind and his contributions at industry meetings such as Retailvision helped retailers worldwide. Opened 4 stores in Chicago area and the company was eventually purchased by Creative Computers.
Computer Store Santa Monica
Recognized as the first computer retail store, founded in 1975 selling Altair computers.
Computer Mart New Jersey
East Coast Retail- Computer Mart of New Jersey
Owned by Larry Stein. Larry went Stan Veit, owner of Computer Mart Long Island, and asked if he could use same name in NJ. Stan agreed but it was a bad decision as his customers would drive to NJ and buy to save sales tax.
Stan Veit authored The History of the Personal Computer and was a longtime columnist at Computer Shopper
Charles Dunning owned The Computer Mart of Boston.
The East Coast retailers formed the first PC buying group called XYZ Corp to buy together and gain a price advantage.
Larry was also part of the retail association ABCD that is now know as CompTIA.
Jade Computer Products, Torrance, CA
John took over JADE in 1979 and created one of the most popular mail order and retail computer companies. The name was changed to Jade Computer Products. JADE participated in all of the early computer trade shows nationwide.
Byte Shops, Cupertino, CA
Paul was the founder of Byte Shops back in 1976. He was the first one to franchise retail computer stores. At that time Byte Shops sold the popular Altair computer line. In 1976 he gave Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak an order for 50 Apple I computers (In those days 50 units was a huge commitment) and Apple was founded. Jobs used the Byte PO to leverage purchases from Cramer Electronics to get the parts needed to build the boards and the rest is hstory. Paul insisted that the boards have the parts soldered in as most of his potential customers were software programmers unfamiliar with soldering parts. The terms were the usual COD in those days. No credit! The next step for them was an introduction to Don Valentine and the world of Vulture Capital. Byte also introduced one of the first computers, the Byt-8. Today he divides his time between Portland and Florida. One of the real pleasures in life is to sit down with Paul and talk about computer history. I miss the old days when we would hook-up at Comdex, PIP and other conferences several times each year. Back when the PC business was FUN! Today he traverses the USA with his charming wife Jeri
Byte Shops of Northwest, Portland, OR
Pat Terrell founded Byte Shops Northwest in 1977, and served as President and CEO until 1984. Byte Shops grew to $50 million, with several locations, and was one of the most successful chains selling personal computers during this time. In 1984, Pat sold Byte Shops Northwest to Pacific Telesis, one of the Baby Bell's. Mr. Terrell was the founder of Leading Technology in 1984, serving as CEO until 1992. He built Leading Technology to $300MM/year manufacturing Personal Computers before selling the company to Hong Kong based Video Technology.
Pat Terrell is now managing member of Terrell Group Management and PatRick Investments, private equity and real estate investment companies based in Portland.
JADE, Torrance, CA
Don Smith (formerly PSI) started JADE in 1975. The name came from Joann (Don’s wife) and Don Electronics or JADE. Don had a real eye for products that would sell retail and mail order. Nobody could put together deals like Don. He was the master! JADE became a real trend-setter and in 1979 Don was forced to take a break and John Leaper came in a transformed the company into a successful computer oriented reseller (Pete Rose could qualify for the Retail Hall of Fame, but he was not in Retail). JADE was the birthplace of several retail operations including Heath Kline (Priority One), Ray Chapman and Jeff Rose (JDR Electronics).
JDR Microdevices, San Jose, CA
JDR Microdevices was established by Jeffrey D. Rose in 1979. JDR became one of top direct marketers of electronic components and computer products to hobbyists and the technical engineering communities. JDR defined the way that products are sold via catalogs and mail order. Jeff still going strong at JDR located in Sunnyvale, California.
Fry's Electronics, Palo Alto, CA
Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Fry's Electronics in 1985. Member of Retailvision Adisory Board. Created successful "one-stop shopping" concept in Silicon Valley. Now 32 stores offering more than 30,000 products.
ComputerWorks, Westport, Conn
Founder of upscale and successful ComputerWorks retail store in 1978. Founding President/Chairman of Computer Technology Industry Association (CTIA). Received "Merchandiser of the Year" by Computer Merchandising Magazine and a "Super Dealer" by Newsweek. Former Vice President at the Gartner Group. Now an Industry consultant