After retiring the floppy disk in March, Sony has halted the manufacture and distribution of another now-obsolete technology: the cassette Walkman, the first low-cost, portable music player. The final batch was shipped to Japanese retailers in April, once these units are sold, new cassette Walkmans will no longer be available through the manufacturer.
The first generation Walkman (which was called the Soundabout in the U.S., and the Stowaway in the UK) was released on July 1, 1979 in Japan. Although it later became a huge success, it only sold 3,000 units in its first month. Sony managed to sell some 200 million iterations of the cassette Walkman over the product line’s 30-year career.
This was my childhood’s equivalent of the ipod. The idea of carrying music around with you and listening to it was not practical at that time, until Sony showed the way. I remember that I must have owned around 10 of these gadgets at different times from the age of 8 till around the age of 27. I must have carried one for each long trip that I made during those years. I go through a tough year living in a hostel in Bangalore with the help of my walkman and the many rock albums that I owned. I listened to it constantly while I spent the 12-15 hours that it took me to travel via bus or train from Cochin to Bangalore. I listened to my walkman a whole lot while living alone in a lodge in Calicut for the most part of 8 months. It was a constant companion for many years.
I’m sad to see it being discontinued but it’s become almost obsolete with ipods and mp3 portable players becoming so affordable and increasingly larger capacities.