The Walkman

In July of 1979, the Sony Walkman was released to the public. You had portable music anywhere you went. It cost $150 ($546.21 in today’s money).

The 1980s was the Walkman’s decade. Cassettes started to outsell albums and this device was one of the reasons. By 1986 the word “Walkman” had entered the Oxford English Dictionary. Its launch coincided with the birth of the aerobics craze, and millions used the Walkman to make their workouts more entertaining.

Between 1987 and 1997 — the height of the Walkman’s popularity — the number of people who said they walked for exercise increased by 30 percent.

Sony continued to roll out variations on its theme, adding such features as AM/FM receivers, bass boost, and auto-reverse. Sony even made a solar-powered Walkman, water-resistant Sport Walkmans and even devices with two cassette drives. With the introduction of compact discs in 1982, the cassette format began to go the way of the dinosaur.

Sony was fairly quick to jump to new formats: it introduced the D-50 portable CD player a year after the first compact discs were sold, and later rolled out MiniDisc and MP3 players under the Walkman brand.

It caught on with the public in a big way. Today with iPods, iPhones and other devices we take it for granted are descendants from the 1979 Walkman.


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “The Walkman”

  1. “Between 1987 and 1997 — the height of the Walkman’s popularity”

    “With the introduction of compact discs in 1982, the cassette format began to go the way of the dinosaur.”

    Are those dates correct?

    Well no matter ***
    I still have a use for a “Walkman”, unfortunately I don’t have one.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds right-cd came in in 1982 but didn’t catch up to lps til around ’90 or so.cassettes on other hand peaked in late-80s. Anyone remember ‘cassingles’?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. they were something the record companies tried to foist upon us – a cassette single.Like a 7″vinyl but oncassette. Play one song, flip over, play one more. I was never a fan of pre-recorded cassettes, but these were the worst.Seems to me they retailed for about $4 back in the day too. I still have one somewhere, a Blue Rodeo one, keep as a collectors item. I do admit I also remember buying a Tom Petty one (think it was “Running down a dream”) and the Rolling Stones “Mixed Emotions” when I couldn’t find it on 7″

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I know…I didn’t get one until they came down in price…but it was awesome. Yes I don’t go anywhere without music and audio books.


  2. The Walkman is what made me a consistent runner, for years, until MP3 players became mainstream. It wasn’t until about 2001 that I finally switched to MP3. I can’t even guess how many Walkman-type devices I had over the years. There’s probably still a Walkman stashed somewhere in my house, with mixtape inside. The ringing in my ears today is my permanent reminder that I always had the volume turned up too high. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I walk every day listening to something… well right now I’m walking through my lunch break and listening to the Daltrey book…and commenting also lol.
      They didn’t have a clue on what they would influence in 79 I’m sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I too am always listening to something still, when biking, walking, or jogging. Now it’s through my phone, using a speaker. No more ear buds and damaged hearing. But always listening to something. I agree, that’s what the Walkman started, and it would be hard to measure the significance.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. After years of ear splitting volume at times from playing guitar in bars and clubs it’s amazing I don’t have severe damage…My wife claims I do because of the volume of the television… but yea I turned headphones up too loud.


  3. I never had the sony one but got a generic version in 89 before I took only long train ride of my life,about 36h each way. But i don’t remember using it on the train anyway

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep- from Toronto out to NovaScotia on east coast. Spent one night each way in a “sleeper” -tiny little berth that somehow they flipped into normal seats in day, I seem to remember. Like you, I like trains, so I liked it. Actually, one of the cooler things I have done was take a whole lot of photos of freights around where I was in early-90s along CP Rail tracks… eventually met some workers and got a waiver allowing me to “tresspass” and had one photo I took framed on the wall of the railway’s district manager! Unfortunately all those negs are now long gone.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Now that is really cool. It’s too bad about the negatives. I would love to do that at a relaxed pace. That is something you will always remember.


  4. I never had a walkman that only played cassettes, but I had (and actually still have, though it won’t rewind anymore) ones that recorded too. All by Sony. In the early to mid 1990s my dad allowed me to record his memoirs on it. I’ve those and a few other cassettes left. It’s a shame they’re no longer being made. There was a guy on ebay who used to repair them but by the time I knew about him, he’d vanished.

    From cassettes, I moved on to MiniDiscs and, even though they’re no longer made, it’s possible to buy them still from ebay. I’ve a couple of Sharp MD player/recorders that I bought second-hand, and they’re very good. I’ve far too many of the discs but they’re easier to use and edit than cassettes ever were as they’re a sort of combination of magnetic tape and cd (did you ever splice a cassette tape? What a pain!) and take up very little room. Nearly all of mine are in just one drawer!


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