Happy 40th birthday, Walkman

By mbrooks on July 1, 2019
File – A 1980 Sony Walkman ‘Stowaway TPS-L2’ is pictured during a press preview for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s new Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art on November 2, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

By Matthew Brooks

Before the iPod, there was the Walkman.

The first Walkman went on sale in Japan on July 1, 1979.

The Sony Walkman, like the Apple iPod, hit the market at a cost of about $500, after adjusting for inflation.

Sony created a portable music player that revolutionized putting music in your pocket.

That is, one hour’s worth of music. The compact cassette tapes made ubiquitous by the Walkman held 30 minutes of music on each side.

The compact cassette tape as we know it dates back to 1962.

The Walkman also broke new ground by running on two AA batteries.

Never again would fitness enthusiasts need to drag a clunky record player along when they went for a run.

Eliminating the speaker on the cassette player and requiring the use of headphones was instrumental in making the Walkman into a compact music player.

Sony would continue its personal music player dominion through the 1990s with its portable CD player, the Sony Discman.

The first digital music player also dates back to 1979, though it was not made commercially available. The prototype, invented by British scientist Kane Kramer, was capable of playing one hour’s worth of audio.

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