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The Walkman Turns 35

Posted by - 11:43 AM on 07/01/14
Sony's first Walkman went on sale 35 years ago today. The Verge has a recap on the history of this iconic portable music player.
The first of Sony's iconic portable cassette tape players went on sale on this day, July 1st, back in 1979 for $150. As the story goes, Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka got the wheels turning months before when he asked for a way to listen to opera that was more portable than Sony's existing TC-D5 cassette players. The charge fell to Sony designer Norio Ohga, who built a prototype out of Sony's Pressman cassette recorder in time for Ibuka's next flight.
 
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11:53 AM on 07/01/14
#2
ACA
Next Show: RIOT FEST CHICAGO!!!!!!!
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Great news post.

I'm nowhere near old enough to truly appreciate how much of a game changer this was, but I'm eternally grateful for this giant leap.

For me, the gamechanger was the MP3 and its associated piracy culture. As soon as you didn't have to pay $19.99 for an album or rely on shitty methods like radio / television / movies to discover NEW music, everything changed. I definitely remember relying on my 28k (or often worse) AOL connection to download shitty quality 96kbps songs and, if I had all week, albums.

Not being force-fed music is the most important music development in recent times.
05:58 PM on 07/01/14
#3
trevorshmevor
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Not old enough to remember when these came out, but I definitely went through a few as a kid. Lifesaver for long family road trips.
06:56 PM on 07/01/14
#4
TheUpside
It All Feels Like an Ending
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Around the time the first IPod and copy cat MP3 players came out, my roommate and I both bought MiniDisc players to replace our CD Walkmans and LOVED them. The battery lasted forever and making playlists on the recordable MDs was rad. I eventually won a first or second generation IPod in a weird contest at my college, but still preferred the MD. It worked awesomely with Some pre iTunes program (music match jukebox I think?). Good product.
07:12 PM on 07/01/14
#5
RiCCioLi
Midtown Saves.
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Its sad these days that no one on here really remembers the days of waiting all day to have your favorite song played on the radio with your fingers ready to jump on the play/record buttons. You always missed the first 15 seconds of the song or had the DJ's dialog before the song started (if you caught it on a top 5 at 9 or whatever) I had a walkman since 1992 and I still even have it. Great post. Walkman>Discman
11:28 PM on 07/01/14
#6
wrothish
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Its sad these days that no one on here really remembers the days of waiting all day to have your favorite song played on the radio with your fingers ready to jump on the play/record buttons. You always missed the first 15 seconds of the song or had the DJ's dialog before the song started (if you caught it on a top 5 at 9 or whatever) I had a walkman since 1992 and I still even have it. Great post. Walkman>Discman
I remember catching songs on the radio in elementary-middle school, but I only had a few tapes because the flawed intro just messed with my music OCD (whole songs. whole albums. straight through. *twitch*) University radio wasn't as bad about DJs talking over the music, but you could never tell what you were going to hear.

We made some mix cassettes from vinyl and (much later) I always had a few CDs transferred to cassette in case my CD player died. This approach was probably shaped by the southwestern climate, which would melt/warp tapes in the car while running errands. A VCR was actually my 90s magnetic recording device of choice: videos, 120 minutes, PBS concerts, sci-fi shows, "count" noted on the label for fast-forwarding.

The Walkman's portability and ubiquity was so important, though. It was really the first fully-functional, semi-ergonomic portable device. iPhones didn't look like early cell phones. They looked like/functioned as iPods, and I think that's an insight that was built on Walkman's legacy as well as Apple's success.
10:52 AM on 07/02/14
#7
ViTOP
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I remember this so well. I was 13 and it was THE BIGGEST THING EVER!! (at least to a 13 yo)

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