Found photo details electronics shopping in the late 1800s

Eager consumers line up for the midnight release of a new product called "the lightbulb."

Eager consumers gather for the midnight release of a new product called "the light bulb."

Cleverpork Central is proud to bring you a recently discovered photo of retail giant Best Buy’s predecessor: Supreme Purchase.

According to documents attached to the photo, the oft-forgotten chain primarily sold telegraphs — strange metal machines that allowed the transmission of what we might today call “text messages.” Cell phone towers had terrible coverage back then, because they simply didn’t exist.

Supreme Purchase, the “Consumer Leader in Voltage and Coke-Based Doohickeys and Gizmos,” also dabbled in the audiophile market with an array of phonographs. Among them was the failed iPhono — a backpack phonograph powered by coal — which claimed the “i” moniker long before Apple created the first and only MP3 player known to mankind, the iPod.

The 19th-century electronics retailer terminated its operations after Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924, which limited the number of immigrants allowed into the United States. This was because the company’s founders were, according to a Senator Thomas McCall of the period, “dirty foreigners.”

And although the modern version of Supreme Purchase wouldn’t reappear until 1985 as Best Buy, it appears the long-standing tradition of using superlatives to describe the transfer of money from customer to retailer was destined to live on in the new venture.


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