Hit rewind: Sony Walkman triggers nostalgia on 40th birthday

Mail Online | 7/1/1979 | Afp
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Must-have 80s gadget and one-time icon of Japan electronics cool, Sony's Walkman turned 40 this year and like its now middle-aged fans, is clinging to its youth with high-tech updates.

On July 1, 1979, as the global economy suffered through the second oil shock, Sony unleashed on the world a dark-blue brick of a machine with chunky silver buttons, the Walkman TPS-L2.

Yen - Today - Money - Generation - Walkman

Priced at a hefty 33,000 yen --$300 in today's money -- the first generation Walkman could not record but its stereo music playback function quickly captured hearts in Japan and then the world.

It had two headset jacks -- labelled 'guys' and 'dolls' -- to allow two people to listen simultaneously.

Orange - 'hotline - Button - Volume - Couple

A bright orange 'hotline' button could be pressed to lower the volume while the couple chatted.

After a disappointing first month when only 3,000 units were sold, sales exploded to eventually hit 1.5 million worldwide for the first model.

Model - WM-2 - Silver - Sales

The second model, the WM-2, which came in red, black and silver, chalked up sales of 2.58 million.

Over the following four decades, Sony sold more than 420 million 'Walkmen' and stopped counting the number of models it had produced when it hit the 1,000 mark -- about 15 years ago.

Electronics - Name - Popularity - Superman - Time

The Japanese electronics giant chose the name partly because of the popularity of Superman at the time and the fact it was based on an existing audio recorder called the 'Pressman.'

The word 'Walkman' has since entered everyday language but the device was initially called 'Soundabout', 'Stowaway' or 'Freestyle' in some parts of the world.

Walkman - Youth - Katsuya - Kumagai - Exhibition

'The Walkman is my youth,' said Katsuya Kumagai, now 51, as he browsed an exhibition to mark the 40th anniversary of the first edition.

'It was always in my life,' he added, scanning some of the 230 varieties of Walkman on show, which also offers nostalgic visitors the chance to play...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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