Forty years ago, music was set free from big stereo systems and radios filled with commercials. For the first time, people were able to take their music with them anytime, anywhere, thanks to the Sony Walkman. In a short video, Sony celebrates that anniversary by showing off all the different iterations of this portable music device.
The Sony Walkman was created by Sony Co-founder Masaru Ibuka. Believing that the company’s existing portable player was just too big, bulky, expensive, and heavy, Ibuka put together a prototype Walkman by modifying the Sony Pressman, which was a compact tape recorder that had been designed for use by journalists. The first two months of sales for the Walkman saw more than 50,000 units flying off the shelves. From those beginnings, the Walkman went on to be built out in 230 different versions—from cassette players to portable CD players to MP3 players. It wasn’t until Apple came out with the iPod that Walkman was unseated as the undisputed king of portable music, with over 400 million Walkmans having been sold since its debut.
The video shows a montage of the many different models of Walkmans that were created, from the original TPS-L2 to the WM1Z signature series. You’ll see Walkmans that used cassettes, CDs, and even memory sticks. For those that lived through the ‘80s, you’ll have plenty of memories come flowing back. Younger crowds can be amazed at the old technology, and wonder how people could have possibly survived way back then.
“Walkman is the strongest representative of the company, and the products have shaped the qunique, creative and innovative Sony brand,” said Daisuke Nagano, president of Sony Enterprise. “Customers’ memories generated through our Walkman product are what we should always keep in mind regardless of how the company proceeds to survive in this highly competitive business field with the presence of free music apps out there.”
The video coincides with a pop-up exhibit in Tokyo’s Ginza district that features a “Walkman Wall” that displays more than 230 models of the Walkman. Titled “The Day the Music Walked” the display also shares personal Walkman stories from 40 celebrities. The exhibition runs through September 1, 2019.