Walkman Walks Off the Stage

This is a little like hearing someone died but you’d already figured they’d been dead for a while. Sony has announced it’s ceasing production of the Sony Walkman, the once revolutionary cassette music player that debuted in 1979. There will still be MP3 ‘Walkman’ and the CD version. But for the original, real thing, the cassette player, that’s it, though a Chinese company has licensed the name to sell a similar product in Asia and the Middle East. Sony says they’ve sold over 200 million of the things over 31 years.

For those of you who weren’t around or weren’t old enough in 1979, it must be difficult to imagine what an amazing product this was since — let’s be honest — today it looks like kind of a joke. It wasn’t just that the device was small, though it was — not that much bigger than the size of a cassette itself. It was that the headphones were so small and managed to provide — right up against your ear — a surprising degree of audio fidelity. Remember, holding a boombox up on your shoulder wasn’t just an affectation. It was the only real way to listen to music on the go.