First Sony Walkman and its History – Gadget of the Week

July 1, 1979, marked the entry of the first Sony Walkman into the world, where portable and quality music was just a dream. In the time when only VCRs were considered the best for quality music, Sony designed a device which made listening to music on-the-go possible.

History of the First Sony Walkman

Masaru Ibuka, then CEO of Sony Corp., being a big music enthusiast inquired Norio Ohga, then Executive Deputy President, if a portable music player can be built. When Ibuka was questioned about his idea, his response was,

“Don’t you think a stereo cassette player that you can listen to while walking around is a good idea?”

Initially, the Walkman was introduced in different countries with different names. For example, in the U.S., it was introduced as the “Sound-About” and in the UK as the “Stowaway”. As this proved to be costly, Sony eventually decided on “Walkman” as the brand name.

Although the first Sony Walkman faced a few failures in the beginning, it managed to sell over 400 million units including 200 million cassette players. Sony discontinued the classic cassette tape Walkman in 2010 but the name is still used in Sony applications.

The term “Walkman” entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 1986. By then, Sony had conquered an entirely new consumer electronics space, making it the tech giant in Japan, followed by other companies like Philips.

Design of the First Sony Walkman

The first Sony Walkman, codenamed TPS-L2, weighed 14 ounces and was 6 inches long by 3.5 inches wide. It was distributed in blue-and-silver color with chunky buttons, headphones, and a leather case. The device required 2 x AA batteries for functioning. The Walkman also had an extra earphone jack so that two people could listen in at once.

From the first Sony Walkman to the latest Walkman ZX2, Sony has continued to roll out tons of variations and amaze us. Adding AM/FM receivers, bass boost, OLED screen and expandable storage etc., on later models. Solar powered and water resistant Walkmans are also worth mentioning.