In the second of my 10 Retro Gadgets of the Week, I talk about arguably one of the most important inventions of the 20th century!
Don’t forget to listen in to the podcast link above where I talk about the gadget and its functions.
The Sony Walkman was a portable cassette player launched in 1979, it started a revolution in personal audio cassette players and altered the listening habits of people and brought music to the masses wherever they might be.
Soundabout, Freestyle and Stowaway
Originally invented as the Sony Pressman to allow journalists to record interviews using a compact device, it became a personal entertainment device shortly after, settling on the name Walkman after being names the Soundabout, Freestyle and Stowaway. It very quickly became very popular and Sony began marketing it under a single brand-name, the Sony Walkman was born.
Originally the Walkman came with two headphone sockets with individual volume controls and a Hotline button which lowered the volume levels and opened the microphone to allow for station announcements to be heard or the user to have conversations with other people.
Other manufacturers such as Aiwa, Toshiba and Panasonic soon followed suit launched competing products, but the devices all became known as a “Walkman” as the brand-name crossed over into popular culture and entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 1986.
The Walkman was used when walking, exercising and running. Sony launched the ‘Sports Walkman’ which offered a degree of waterproofing and allegedly drove the fitness craze of the late ’80s. It was during this time that cassettes began outselling vinyl as millions of people chose the Walkman for their entertainment.
As music delivery advanced forwards, Sony was quick to adapt the brand to suit new formats, thus they launched the Sony Discman for the CD marketplace, the Sony DAT Walkman, MiniDisc Walkman and Sony Watchman TV.
Without the Sony Walkman, we wouldn’t have modern personal music players and most certainly would never have seen the Apple iPod. Sony continued the brand of Walkman into the modern smartphone marketplace.
Don’t forget to listen to the podcast above! Like, Share and Subscribe and I will see you next week for the Retro Gadget No.3
Thanks to Matt Marvell at BBC Radio Suffolk for having me on his show as a guest again this week.
The Gadget Man