The Walkman is dead, long live the Walkman
31 years ago, Sony brought the Walkman to market and simultaneously started the portable music boom. Most of the Numero staff has fond memories of rewinding and fast-forwarding homemade tapes, and even though we’ve graduated to iPods, we’ve remained suckers for the format. On Friday, the Japanese multinational conglomerate announced it had ceased production of the Walkman, and although there are plenty of other competitors in the field, it’s a sad day indeed for those who prefer their shitty portable music on 1/8th inch tape.
To commemorate the device’s passing, Numero is trotting out an item that we’ve never featured for sale on our website; the Brotherman cassette.
We generally only trot these out for special events, but for the next week we’re making them available here for the low, low price of $5 postage paid. There’s only 30 or so left, and once they’re gone, they’ll go the way of the Walkman. That is to say, on to eBay for a sum well above what we’re asking.
It wouldn’t be Numero if we didn’t give you a summary of the history the device (courtesy of intern Ryan Razowsky):
We can all thank Sony audio-division engineer Nobutoshi Kihara for his effort in developing the first Walkman in 1978. Despite possible names such as “Pressman”, “Watchman”, “Scoopman”, “Discman”, “Sound-About”, “Stowaway” and “Talkman” (all trademarked by Sony) and Sony Chairman Akio Moritas dissatisfaction with the Walkman name, it was a junior executive at the company that mistakenly solidified the name by sending it to their promotion division. The Walkman turned out to be a massive hit right off the bat, selling upwards of 50,000 units during the first two months. It proved to be the best damn combination of portability and privacy this country had ever seen when it was released in the States in June of 1980.
We can essentially call the next two decades “The Era of The Walkman”, dominating the world from dim lit city street hoodie pockets to armbands of suburban aerobic queen champions. By 1983, with the help of the Walkman, cassette tapes outsold vinyl for the first time. Between 1987 and 1997 the popularity of portable cassette players led to a 30% increase in the number of people who said they walked for exercise. Even through the 90’s, that brought the technology of portable CD and Minidisc players, it would be the over 300 different models along all three formats that elevated popular culture to a world that listens to music wherever and whenever.
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