Sony Walkman Turned 35 This Year
If you were born in the latter part of the 20th century you will probably have owned a Sony Walkman, chances are the image of that iconic device will be etched into your memory and you will recollect listening to 80’s music with a freedom never before know.
A little over 35 years ago the Sony Walkman started a change in the way we listen to music. It paved the way for MP3 players and the likes of the Apple iPod.
Its conception wasn’t brought about as some great concept for the masses or future vision that would change the world. It was a much more self-serving request from Masaru Ibuka a co-founder of Sony, a powerhouse of the Japanese electronics industry.
Masaru Ibuka liked listening to classical music and unfortunately for him he spent and inordinate amount of time on lengthy trans-pacific flights. This meant that in order to listen to his favorite classical music he needed to haul around a bulky, cumbersome cassette player. Being a co-founder at Sony has some benefits, so he made a request to Norio Ohga, section manager of Sony’s tape recorder division, asking him to build a smaller more portable version for his personal use. What they came up with became the Sony Walkman.
On the 1 st of July 1979 the Walkman portable cassette player hit the market, and while it may not have been an instant success, it required some hard selling and a few refinements, it wasn’t too long before the Walkman became a hit.
The Walkman II came out in 1981, being smaller than its predecessor, only a little larger than a cassette tape, it sold 1.5 million units. It even went into space and was used by astronauts on the 1984 Discovery mission.
Also in 1984 a more durable version with a beefier case and some water resistance was released, this was shortly followed by the Discman which had a price tag over $300 but it helped solidify compact discs as the new medium for music.
So decades before the Apple iPod ushered in the digital music revolution the Sony Walkman had sold hundreds of millions of portable magnetic tape players and changed the way we listen to music. So next time you listen to music on your phone or MP3 player just remember that it’s thanks in large part to Masaru Ibuka and Norio Ohga.