Music

Modern Relics: The rise and fall (and rise again) of the Sony Walkman

Modern Relics: The rise and fa...
The Sony Walkman forever changed the way we listened to music.
The Sony Walkman forever changed the way we listened to music.
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The Sony Walkman forever changed the way we listened to music.
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The Sony Walkman forever changed the way we listened to music.
The Sony Walkman forever changed the way we listened to music.
2/2
The Sony Walkman forever changed the way we listened to music.

The relentless march of technological development means once cutting edge inventions are continually being relegated to the scrapheap, or at least the musty bottom drawer. From what might have been to what never stood a chance, our Modern Relics video series takes a look back at technology that has fallen by the wayside, found itself on the wrong side of a format war, or was simply superseded by new innovation.

In 1980 the Sony Walkman arrived on the shores of the United States and completely altered how people consumed music. In this episode of Modern Relics we look back at the rise and fall of this influential device ... and its recent resurgence as a highly sought after hipster accessory.

Do you still have and/or use an old cassette Walkman? How long did you hang onto yours back in the day? We'd love to hear about your experiences with this classic little piece of tech.

And remember to check out some of our other episodes of Modern Relics.

12 comments
RobertMinter
I still have a Sony Walkman Professional WM-D6. I bought it to transfer old cassettes of studio recordings a few years ago but i have been unable to get rid of it. It sits alone on a shelf, fully boxed with all of its accessories including the remote and will probably be placed on Ebay by one of my chilfren in a couple of decades time. I'm sure it will still work as perfectly then as it does now.
Brian Templeton
I have three Sony Walkman's, although they are quite a bit more bulky then the present day equipment, I find they are very convenient for changing over various audio tapes from music to instructional passages, and I can adjust the volume to any level without bothering anybody. And yes, I do use them quite a few times every week!
Stomps
Before the Walkman there was Astraltunes out of Reno Nevada in 1975.
sammymann
Vinyl, then tape, then mini disc, then cd, then thumb drive. Computers, chips and salsa. I keep my cassette players. Unless I was on fire and the only way I could put myself out, was to play something audio on the old tape format: I'd still think about it twice. Since moving to digital, my impatience level with anything audio/video, especially the tape format, increased exponentially. I have pure platinum recordings that will never see the light of day.
wle
actually the belts will be useless in about 10 years after being made... rubber parts decay wle
DavidNixon
I was a proud owner myself. I had a neoprene waist belt for it plus a 4 band inline equalizer. My headphones were sony also, they clipped behind the ear. Fun memories.
IgorPismensky
Still own my Walkman and cassettes. Used it when Alpine skiing mostly but did buy a carrying case which had two speakers (3" x 3" x 6" each) which was sort of a boom box. Like to part with it but with todays tech, I'm afraid it would end up in a land fill.
charlieFreak
I had an M-80 microcassette at uni. In my yearbook my classmates said it was my life support system. It could record as well as play back and had AM/FM radio. I used to walk around listening to Radio 2 (UK) and recording it simultaneously. You could even drop the speed to half for extended cassette life... and it had a loudspeaker. Truly a design classic! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PlqiytIF_0
Bob Flint
"WLE" Yes most belts decay, my 35 year old dual cassette deck belts dried out and don't turn. However the tape deck on my 17 year old van still work, haven't tried the CD player recently.