Death of the Walk­man

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE -

the day the iPod was launched, is the bet­ter date of ex­pi­ra­tion.

But none of the suc­cess of Ap­ple’s por­ta­ble mu­sic play­ers would have ever hap­pened with­out the cas­sette Walk­man. Some 220 mil­lion have been sold since the first model, the TPS-L2, made its de­but in July 1979. (it re­tailed for US$200.) At the time, tran­sis­tor ra­dios were por­ta­ble, but there was noth­ing widely avail­able like the Walk­man.

it was de­vel­oped un­der the stew­ard­ship of Sony founders Akio Morita and Masaru ibuka. Morita in­sisted the de­vice not be fo­cused on record­ing but play­back, a rel­a­tively odd no­tion at the time.

orig­i­nally called the “Sound­about” in the United States, the Walk­man was an im­me­di­ate sen­sa­tion and a revo­lu­tion in mu­sic lis­ten­ing.

Fore­most, it was por­ta­ble. Mu­sic no longer needed to be some­thing that one ex­peri- enced sit­ting in a room, but could be blasted on the bus, pumped while jog­ging on a beach or played softly while study­ing.

By turn­ing the vol­ume up, any­one could be tuned out.

The de­tached teenager with foam ear­phones slouched in the back seat or bob­bing his head in the el­e­va­tor be­came an in­deli­ble im­age of the 80s. (The first Walk­man did have an orange “hot line” but­ton to lower the mu­sic and in­crease the mi­cro­phone so you could hear some­one talk­ing to you.)

Mu­sic, pre­vi­ously lis­tened to in a room with shag car­pet­ing and a stereo, was cast into the world, made a part of daily life. Pink Floyd could join a walk in the park, Pub­lic En­emy could sound­track a com­mute.

More than porta­bil­ity, it fos­tered a per­son­al­i­sa­tion to mu­sic, a theme the iPod would also high­light in those early danc­ing sil­hou­ette ads. A big rea­son there’s so much

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