Looking back: The iconic Sony Walkman

Amelia Baer
  • Amelia Baer
  • July 3, 2014
Looking back: The iconic Sony Walkman

Thirty-five years ago, when people wanted to listen to music on-the-go, options were slim. Today, it’d be a challenge to go anywhere without spotting a pair of earbuds with beats faintly escaping from them. This week marks three and a half decades since the release of Sony’s iconic personal music player, The Walkman—a device that truly deserves a nod in this iPod and streaming music era.

Sony of Japan created the original Walkman TPS-L2, which hit the market in 1979. What started as the answer to Sony’s co-founder’s need for travel-friendly, high-quality music player, turned into a revolution in the music industry. The portable audio cassette player gave users exactly what they wanted in the form they desired: personalized musical experiences that could be controlled and carried in a single hand. The user—not the device—was now the priority, and media of all kinds would spend the subsequent years adapting devices to this paradigm shift.

The Walkman evolved over the years, adding features like AM/FM receivers, auto-reverse, and bass boost, but Sony didn’t stop there. Just three years later, Sony launched the first commercially available CD player and followed up quickly with a portable version, the Discman. Not only did the Walkman spawn a technological revolution, it delivered one of the most iconic decade of music directly to consumers, changing forever how we would experience music and entertainment years later.

Regardless of your musical decade of choice, if you’ve plugged in a set of headphones or logged into a music streaming app, like Beatgasm, you owe a significant amount of your experience to that 1979 technological innovation.

At this point, it only seems right to take a moonwalk back in time and get nostalgic about the decade of music that was and, in many ways, still is ingrained in today’s culture. Thanks, Walkman. Let’s break it down:

  • MTV blossomed on to televisions for the first time in the summer of 1981
  • Michael Jackson made the moonwalk this signature move in 1983
  • Live Aid featured some of the cornerstone performances of artists like U2, The Pretenders, Queen, and more in 1985
  • Who can forget Marty McFly’s epic performance of Johnny B. Goode

Have a guilty-pleasure 80’s jam? Share with us below.


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