Sony kills the Walkman

After years on the market, Sony has decided to kill off the cassette Walkman, the first low-cost, portable music player.

The fact that it was still selling the beasts might have surprised some, and instantly teleported their minds to the 1980’s when the Walkman really was as important as shoulder pads and the Thompson Twins.

Sony has been purging its line up of out-of-date technology lately. In March it killed off the floppy disk.

The electronics gear maker has halted the manufacturing and distribution of another now-obsolete technology. It said that the final batch was shipped to Japanese retailers in April. Once these are sold, and we think it will take a while new cassette Walkmans will no longer be available through the manufacturer.

The first generation Walkman, which was known as the Soundabout in the US, and the Stowaway in the UK, was released on July 1, 1979 in Japan. Although it later became a huge success, it only sold 3000 units in its first month.

However Sony managed to flog more than 200 million iterations of the cassette Walkman over the product line’s 30-year career.

They were great days with all those stories which you see to day about iPods being written for the first time. They were all there. Ear-damage, walking into lamp-posts, falling under cars. The only thing they didn’t do was catch fire or explode. If the press had been on computers in those days, we were still using typewriters, we could have just saved the stories, cut and pasted them just substituting the word “iPod” for “walkman”.

Its reign at the top was ended when portable CD players came on the market and people no longer had to fiddle with bulky cassette tapes. The morning after “a late night” you could always see cassettes hung like streamers from trees and lap-posts. Walkman’s and their ilk were not that forgiving to the medium

Cassette tapes were allowed to live a little longer, mostly in cars but generally the Walkman disappeared. The idea of portable music was revived in popular culture by Apple’s Steve Jobs with the iPod which is nine years old today. Now the iPod is also going the way of the Walkman as people get bored with bouncing off lamp posts or looking like an idiot while something sounding like someone pounding on a bowl of Rice Crispies happens in their ears.