Do you remember a time when the Sony Walkman was as high-tech as the iPhone 5? Even though we have the modern advantage of rechargeable batteries, the idea of having a portable cassette or CD player today seems laughable. However, when the transistor radio was invented in the 1950’s, the world suddenly had an idea that music could be handheld. Inventions like the boom box dominated certain decades, but it was the introduction of the Walkman by Sony in 1979 that would shape music listening for the next twenty years.
A Brief History Of The Walkman
Despite the fact that Sony launched the product, the actual inventor of the portable personal stereo audio cassette player was a man named Andreas Pavel. He filed a patent for a device he called a “Stereobelt” in 1977. Since Pavel’s patent was rejected by the United States, Sony was able to gain a market there with their Walkman model. However, Pavel eventually reclaimed his financial losses from Sony and gained the title of “Original Inventor of the Personal Stereo.” Nevertheless, it was Sony that made the Walkman popular. For the record, the first Sony Walkman was released in 1979.
The Walkman Takes Over America
Over the course of the 1980’s, the Sony Walkman became a household name. In fact, when other brands picked up the manufacturing of personal stereo products, consumers would still refer to it as their Walkman despite the fact it was not made by Sony. Similar to the way smartphones are regarded today, children in the 1980’s were usually encouraged to avoid using a Walkman because the first models were easy to break. In the mid-1980’s, Sony resolved this issue by producing a line of Walkman toys for children called My First Sony. This was one of many ways that Sony responded to the complaints of their customers. Other examples of improvements to the original design include their slim-line, waterproof and battery-efficient models.
The Walkman Goes Solar
Available in white or yellow, the solar revolution was part of the Walkman history. In 1987 when the Solar Walkman was released on the market, the solar-powered calculator was already prominent. Clearly, the WMF107 Solar Walkman was one of the next steps in getting rid of the need to buy AA batteries every week. Sadly, the Solar Walkman was never perfected, and the unit would not work at full capacity unless the sun was extremely bright. The first run model was also expensive for consumers and the rechargeable battery was difficult to care for.
The Walkman Says Good-Bye
Despite its absence in the modern marketplace, this product did not decline in popularity as early as you think. After decades of being a sought-after piece of technology, Sony finally announced that it would cease production of the device. It made one final batch of Walkmans, and then told the press that these were the final units. By the end of 2011, the days of the Walkman were drawn to a close. There are still many models for sale throughout the world, but you can no longer buy them from the manufacturer. Sony has stated in several reports that the main cause of decline for this product was the invention of the MP3 player.
And with that, the world says good-bye to another great must-have piece of technology.
This piece was written by Pete Salinsky, a freelance writer based in Baton Rouge, LA. Pete enjoys writing about gadgets, gadget accessories, computers, cell phones and other associated topics.