Sony Walkman – Legendary invention
Attention, the 160 million or so owners of an Apple iPod MP3 player: take out those white earbuds and listen for a minute! Before the iPod was even a thought, Sony had sold hundreds of millions of its iconic cassette players! And yes, Sony Walkman is still the best selling portable music player device ever. Number don’t lie!
First-generation of the dark-blue brick device was unleashed 40 years ago, on July 1, 1979. The first model with chunky silver buttons was named Walkman TPS-L2. The device did not have the option for recording at first. Interestingly, the price was relatively high, around 200 USD, but globally the reception was enthusiastic. Walkman quickly captured the hearts of many worldwide.
Facts and features
Fun fact: Device had two headphone jacks, so it could be used by two. Jacks had their names – “guys” and “dolls”. The famous Japanese brand even had a print commercial with a couple on roller skates, both listening to the music simultaneously on one Walkman device. Great marketing we say.
Apart from this feature, few more innovative features were presented on the device, like the orange “hotline” button. It allowed the listener to fade the music and engaged a microphone so he or she could talk to someone nearby, without the need of stopping the music or taking off their headphones. Also, there was a volume control with the option to control the left and right channel.
Another cool idea from Sony was the invention of solar-powered FM/AM cassette player in 1983. The player’s radio could be properly powered by the solar panel, which covered nearly the entireness of the player’s back. For use of cassette listening the built-in rechargeable battery was required though. The name of this forward-thinking model was Sony Walkman WM-F107.
Did you know: Device was initially named differently in some countries. Soundabout in the USA, Freestyle in Australia and Stowaway in the UK were initial names in those countries, but Japanese name Walkman was actually the one that was accepted best by listeners worldwide.
Over 420 million Walkman portable music players have been sold globally. 200 million of them were cassette players. Sony retired the classic cassette player Walkman line in 2010 but The LEGEND still lives! Happy 40th birthday Sony Walkman! Long live the Sony legend.