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Tuesday 26 October 2010

Death of the Walkman.

So, the Sony Walkman is dead.

I guess this was bound to happen, in this age of the mp3 player, iPod, iPhone, smart phone etc etc.
But, it is the end of an era in some ways. If only because of the revolutionary effect the Walkman has had in personal music listening and portable entertainment generally.
After all, without the advent of the Sony Walkman, would we now have all of the new portable entertainment centres that are so prevalent these days?

Of course, it would have happened sooner, or later. But, the Sony Walkman really started the ball rolling, back in 1979 and put the idea of portable music listening into peoples minds and ears.

I'll admit that i was quite surprised to hear that the Walkman was actually still being manufactured in 2010. Reports of it's death had obviously been exaggerated.

I'm sure that many younger people, my children for example, will never understand just how revolutionary the Walkman was. For the first time ever, you could carry your own music around with you and listen to it without disturbing anyone else. Well, most of the time anyway!

Before the advent of the Walkman. I can vividly remember myself and my music loving friends, having to carry around what were effectively, portable cassette decks. A bit like a primitive ghetto blaster in some ways. But, without the better sound quality, or headphones. Something that didn't always go down well with the general public!
Although this cassette player did have a headphone socket. Before the Walkman appeared, headphones just weren't that practical, or cheap. That was another aspect that does get overlooked. In some ways, those little foam headphones were, almost, as revolutionary as the player itself.

Suddenly, everyone could walk, or run, around listening to their personal choice of music. And, if you bought the C120 cassette tapes, you had a whole 2 hours worth of music to listen to. Wow!

As an early adopter of new gadgets, even back then, i bought a Walkman quite early on and i still own one now. I can remember spending hours compiling tapes of my favourite music. Frantically struggling to make sure that i got as close to the end of the tape as i could, without cutting off the end of a song.

Of course, the Sony Walkman was just the start. And not just for me either.
From the Walkman, i progressed onto the Sony Discman, with the rise of the Compact Disc, in the mid 1980's.
Then it was the Mini-Disc, in the 1990's. Whatever happened to the Mini-Disc by the way?
And, of course, the iPod, in the 2000's.
I wonder what the next decade will bring?

Now, we think nothing of carrying around our entire music collections in one, small, portable music player. My own iPod has around 5,000 tracks on it. And then, there are the videos, photos, podcasts etc.
All of this future technology was made possible by the idea and the invention of the Sony Walkman, in 1979.

So, rest in noise the Sony Walkman, 1979-2010.
400 million sales and countless damaged eardrums, can't be wrong.

I suppose all that remains now, is that undignified scramble to snap up the last remaining items on sale, so that they can be put up for auction on eBay?
Maybe, i should dig out that big red brick of a Sony Walkman that i have myself?


  1. I, too, was surprised that the Walkman was still being made in 2010.

    The first portable music device I remember having was at least a decade before the Walkman; but it had no tape player, just an AM radio with a single earbud.

    It was a bit too large for most pockets (unless you had a good winter coat on), but the carrying case had a little loop to put your belt through.

    "Rest in noise" indeed :^)

  2. Some of those early Walkmans were a bit big for pockets too, i seem to remember.
    I've had portable radios as well. But, i think the difference with the Walkman was that you could play what YOU wanted to hear :)