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Walkman is a brand of
portable audio player A portable audio player is a personal mobile device A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern comp ...
s manufactured by
Sony , commonly known as Sony and stylized as SONY, is a Japanese multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multi ...

Sony
. The original Walkman, released in 1979, was a portable cassette player. Its popularity made "walkman" an unofficial term for personal stereos of any producer or brand. By 2010, when production stopped, Sony had built about 200 million cassette-based Walkmans. The Walkman brand was extended to serve most of Sony's portable audio devices as well as related media devices. The name has been used on portable DAT players,
MiniDisc MiniDisc (MD) is a Magneto-optical drive, magneto-optical disc-based data storage device, data storage format offering a capacity of 60, 74, and later, 80 minutes of digitized sound, audio. Sony brand audio players went on the market in Sept ...

MiniDisc
players/recorders,
CD players A CD player is an electronic device that plays audio compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics ...
(originally
Discman CD Walkman model D-E330 (2002) Discman was Sony , commonly known as Sony and stylized as SONY, is a Japanese multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countrie ...

Discman
then renamed the CD Walkman),
radio Radio is the technology of signaling and communicating Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (philosophy), entities or Organization, groups through the use ...

radio
receivers, Sony's line of
digital audio Digital audio is a representation of sound recorded in, or converted into, Digital signal (signal processing), digital form. In digital audio, the sound wave of the audio signal is typically encoded as numerical Sampling (signal processing), sa ...
and media players, mobile phones and more. As of 2020, only digital audio and media players are in production.


Development

The first Walkman prototype was built from a modified Sony Pressman, a compact cassette recorder designed for journalists and released in 1977. The metal-cased blue-and-silver Walkman TPS-L2, the world's first low-cost
personal stereo A personal stereo, or personal cassette player, is a portable audio player using an audiocassette player, battery power and in some cases an AM/FM radio Radio is the technology of signaling and telecommunication, communicating using radio wa ...
, went on sale in Japan on July 1, 1979, and was sold for around ¥33,000 (or $150.00). Though Sony predicted it would sell about 5,000 units a month, it sold more than 30,000 in the first two months. The Walkman was followed by a series of international releases; as overseas sales companies objected to the ''
wasei-eigo are Japanese-language expressions based on English words, or parts of word combinations, that do not exist in standard English or whose meanings differ from the words from which they were derived. Linguistics Linguistics is the science, sc ...
'' name, it was sold under several names, including ''Sound-about'' in the United States, ''Freestyle'' in Australia and Sweden, and ''Stowaway'' in the UK. Eventually, in the early 1980s, ''Walkman'' caught on globally and Sony used the name worldwide. The TPS-L2 was introduced in the US in June 1980. The 1980s was the decade of the intensive development of the Walkman lineup. In 1981 Sony released the second Walkman model, the WM-2, which was significantly smaller compared to the TPS-L2 thanks to "inverse" mounting of the power-operated magnetic head and soft-touch buttons. The first model with
Dolby noise-reduction system A Dolby noise-reduction system, or Dolby NR, is one of a series of Audio noise reduction, noise reduction systems developed by Dolby Laboratories for use in analog audio tape recording. The first was ''#Dolby A, Dolby A'', a professiona ...
appeared in 1982. The first ultra-compact "cassette-size" Walkman was introduced in 1983, model WM-20, with a telescopic case. This allowed even easier carrying of a Walkman in bags or pockets. The first model with autoreverse was released in 1984. In October 1985, the WM-101 model was the first in its class with a "gum stick" rechargeable battery. In 1986 Sony presented the first model outfitted with remote control, as well as one with a
solar Solar may refer to: Astronomy * Of or relating to the Sun. ** A solar telescope 175px, The Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma in the Canary Islands. A solar telescope is a special purpose telescope used ...
battery (WM-F107). Within a decade of launch, Sony held a 50% market share in the United States and 46% in Japan. Two limited edition 10th anniversary models were released in 1989 (WM-701S/T) in Japan, made of
brass Brass is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appear ...

brass
and plated in
sterling silver Sterling silver is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous a ...
. Only a few hundred were built of each. A 15th anniversary model was also made on July 1, 1994, with vertical loading, and a 20th anniversary on July 1, 1999, with a prestige model. By 1989, 10 years after the launch of the first model, over Walkmans had been sold worldwide. units were manufactured by 1995. By 1999, 20 years after the introduction of the first model, Sony sold 186 million cassette Walkmans. Portable
compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics compris ...

compact disc
players led to the decline of the cassette Walkman, which was discontinued in Japan in 2010. The last cassette-based model available in the US was the WM-FX290W - this model was first released 2004. Sony Stereo Cassette Player Walkman WM-4 (9690447842).jpg, Second generation budget Walkman model from 1983 (model WM-4) Sony Sports Walkman WM-F5 (Okinawa).jpg, WM-F5 "Okinawa" Sports Walkman Sony WM-75 Sports walkman blue.jpg, WM-75 Walkman "Sports" model (1985) Walkman-130224-0001EC.jpg, Walkman professional with
Dolby Dolby Laboratories, Inc. (often shortened to Dolby Labs and known simply as Dolby) is an American company specializing in Noise reduction#In audio, audio noise reduction and Audio data compression, audio encoding/compression. Dolby licenses its ...

Dolby
B and C, model WM-D6C, 1985–1999 Vintage Sony Walkman, FM-AM Stereo Cassette Player, Model WM-F77, Made In Japan, Circa 1986 (44032204520).jpg, Model WM-F77, c. 1986 Sony Walkman WM-B603 1989 Front.jpg, WM-B603 (1989) Sony Walkman WM-F404.jpg, WM-F404, high-end model with TV tuner (1990) Walkman WM-SXF33.jpg, A "Sport" Walkman model from the early 1990s Walkman.jpg, A 90s Walkman with a combined radio Sony Walkman WM-EX116 cassette player.jpg, Mid-1990s Walkman (WM-EX116) with supplied headphones Walkman2010.jpg, Sony Walkman WM-EX194 (2004)


Marketing

The marketing of the Walkman helped introduce the idea of "Japanese-ness" into global culture, synonymous with miniaturization and high-technology.Du Gay The "Walk-men" and "Walk-women" in advertisements were created to be the ideal reflections of the viewing audience. A major component of the Walkman advertising campaign was overspecialization of the device. Prior to the Walkman, the common device for portable music was the portable radio, which could only offer listeners standard music broadcasts. Having the ability to customize a playlist was a new and exciting revolution in music consumption. Potential buyers had the opportunity to choose their perfect match in terms of mobile listening technology. The ability to play one's personal choice of music and listen privately was a huge selling point of the Walkman, especially among-st teens, who greatly contributed to its success. A diversity of features and styles suggested that there would be a product which was "the perfect choice" for each consumer.Du Gay, 31 This method of marketing to an extremely expansive user-base while maintaining the idea that the product was made for each individual "the best of all possible worlds—mass marketing and personal differentiation".


Impact and legacy

Culturally the Walkman had a great effect and it became ubiquitous. According to ''
Time Time is the continued of and that occurs in an apparently succession from the , through the , into the . It is a component quantity of various s used to events, to compare the duration of events or the intervals between them, and to of ...
'', the Walkman's "unprecedented combination of portability (it ran on two AA batteries) and privacy (it featured a headphone jack but no external speaker) made it the ideal product for thousands of consumers looking for a compact portable stereo that they could take with them anywhere". According to ''
The Verge ''The Verge'' is an American technology blog A blog (a truncation In mathematics and computer science, truncation is limiting the number of numerical digit, digits right of the decimal point. Truncation and floor function Truncation o ...
'', "the world changed" on the day the Walkman was released. The Walkman became an icon in 1980s culture. In 1986, the word "Walkman" entered the
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal of the , published by (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as desc ...
. Millions used the Walkman during exercise, marking the beginning of the
aerobics Aerobics is a form of physical exercise that combines rhythmic aerobic exercise with stretching and strength training routines with the goal of improving all elements of fitness ( flexibility, muscular strength, and cardio-vascular fitness) ...

aerobics
craze. Between 1987 and 1997, the height of the Walkman's popularity, the number of people who said they walked for exercise increased by 30%. Other firms, including
Aiwa 1980s AIWA HS-P05 Mk II audio cassette player is a consumer electronics Consumer electronics or home electronics are electronic Electronic may refer to: *Electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and ap ...

Aiwa
,
Panasonic formerly is a major Japanese multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational state, ...

Panasonic
and
Toshiba is a Japanese headquartered in , . Its diversified products and services include power, industrial and social infrastructure systems, elevators and escalators, electronic components, s, s (HDD), printers, batteries, lighting, as well as sol ...
, produced similar products, and in 1983 cassettes outsold vinyl for the first time. The Walkman has been cited to not only change people's relationship to music but also technology, due to its "solitary" and "personal" nature, as users were listening to their own music of choice rather than through a radio. It has been seen as a precursor of personal mainstream tech possessions such as personal computers or mobile phones.
Headphone Headphones are a pair of small loudspeaker drivers worn on or around the head over a user's ears. They are electroacoustic transducers, which convert an electrical signal to a corresponding sound In physics Physics (from grc ...

Headphone
s also started to be worn in public. This caused safety controversies in the US, which in 1982 led to the mayor of Wood bridge, New Jersey banning Walkman to be worn in public due to pedestrian accidents. In the market, the Walkman's success also led to great adoption of the Compact Cassette format. Within a few years, cassettes were outselling
vinyl Vinyl may refer to: * Vinyl group, a class of organic molecules in chemistry * Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a particular vinyl polymer ** PVC clothing, cloth coated in PVC, also commonly used for tablecloths, upholstery, and shoes * Vinyl compositio ...
records, and would continue to do so until the
compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a digital Digital usually refers to something using digits, particularly binary digits. Technology and computing Hardware *Digital electronics Digital electronics is a field of electronics Electronics compris ...

compact disc
(CD) overtook cassette sales in 1991. In German-speaking countries, the use of "Walkman" became generic, meaning a personal stereo of any make, to a degree that the Austrian Supreme Court of Justice ruled in 2002 that Sony could not prevent others from using the term "Walkman" to describe similar goods. It is therefore an example of what marketing experts call the " genericide" of a brand. A large statue of a Sports Walkman FM was erected in Tokyo's
Ginza Ginza ( ; ja, 銀座 ) is a district of Chūō, Tokyo Tokyo (Japanese language, Japanese: , ''Tōkyō'' ), historically known in the west as Tokio and officially the Tokyo Metropolis (, ''Tōkyō-to''), is capital of Japan, the capital a ...

Ginza
district in 2019 in celebration of the 40th anniversary.


Successors

In 1989, Sony released portable
Video8 The 8mm video format refers informally to three related Videotape#Consumer and "prosumer" camcorders, videocassette formats for the NTSC and PAL/SECAM television systems. These are the original Video8 (analog recording) format and its improved succ ...

Video8
recorders marketed as "Video Walkman", extending the brand name. In 1990 Sony released portable
Digital Audio Tape Digital Audio Tape (DAT or R-DAT) is a signal recording and playback medium developed by Sony and introduced in 1987. In appearance it is similar to a Compact Cassette, using 3.81 mm / 0.15" (commonly referred to as 4 mm) magnetic ...
(DAT) players marketed as "DAT Walkman". It was extended further in 1992 for
MiniDisc MiniDisc (MD) is a Magneto-optical drive, magneto-optical disc-based data storage device, data storage format offering a capacity of 60, 74, and later, 80 minutes of digitized sound, audio. Sony brand audio players went on the market in Sept ...

MiniDisc
players with the "MD Walkman" brand. From 1997, Sony's
Discman CD Walkman model D-E330 (2002) Discman was Sony , commonly known as Sony and stylized as SONY, is a Japanese multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countrie ...

Discman
range of portable compact disc (CD) players started to rebrand as "CD Walkman". On December 21, 1999, Sony launched its first digital audio players, under the name "Network Walkman" (alongside players under the
VAIO is a Japanese manufacturer headquartered in Azumino, Nagano Prefecture is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. Th ...
name). The first player, which used
Memory Stick The Memory Stick is a removable flash FLASH, acronym of ''Free Electron LASer in Hamburg'', a particle accelerator , a synchrotron collider type particle accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Batavia, Illinois, USA. ...

Memory Stick
storage medium, was branded as "MS Walkman". Most future models would use built-in solid-state
flash memory Flash memory is an electronic Electronic may refer to: *Electronics Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. It uses acti ...
. In 2000, the Walkman brand (everything ranging from cassettes to the Memory Stick players) was unified, and a new small icon, "W.", was made for the branding. Later, Walkman-branded mobile phones were also made by the
Sony Ericsson Sony Mobile Communications Inc. ( ja, ソニーモバイルコミュニケーションズ株式会社) was a Multinational corporation, multinational telecommunications company founded on October 1, 2001 as a joint venture between Sony, Sony Gro ...
joint venture. Sony could not repeat the success of the cassette player in the 21st century digital audio player (DAP) market. Rival
Apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown species in the genus ''Malus''. The tree originated in Central Asia, wher ...
's
iPod The iPod is a line of portable media players and multi-purpose mobile devices designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The iPod Classic#1st generation, first version was released on October 23, 2001, about months after the Macintosh version ...

iPod
range became a huge success in the market, and particularly hindered Walkman sales internationally. Walkman DAP's market share has been better domestically, but still only outsold iPods briefly in 2005 and the 2009-2010 period. Until 2007, Walkman DAPs and
Hi-MD Hi-MD is a Magneto-optical drive, magneto-optical disc-based data storage device, data storage format. It was a further development of the MiniDisc. With its release in later 2004,
players required the use of
SonicStage SonicStage is a discontinued software from Sony , commonly known as Sony and stylized as SONY, is a Japanese multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries ...
PC software. Walkman portable digital audio and media players are the only Walkman-branded products still being produced today - although the "Network" prefix is for long no longer being used, the model numbers still carry the "NW-" prefix.


See also

*
List of Sony Walkman products The following is a partial list of Sony Walkman products (but does not include the Walkman, original cassette tape devices) which includes products of various formats under the brand. Up to March 2010 Sony built 400 million Walkmans (of which 200,0 ...
*
Walkman effect The Walkman effect refers to the way music listened to via headphones allows the user to gain more control over their environment. It was coined by International Research Center for Japanese Studies Professor Shuhei Hosokawa in an article of the sa ...
* Walkman DD Series * Sony Watchman *
Discman CD Walkman model D-E330 (2002) Discman was Sony , commonly known as Sony and stylized as SONY, is a Japanese multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countrie ...

Discman
*
VAIO is a Japanese manufacturer headquartered in Azumino, Nagano Prefecture is a landlocked A landlocked country is a country that does not have territory connected to an ocean or whose coastlines lie on endorheic basin, endorheic basins. Th ...
*
PlayStation Portable The PlayStation Portable (PSP) is a developed and marketed by . It was first released in on December 12, 2004, in on March 24, 2005, and in s on September 1, 2005, and is the first handheld installment in the line of consoles. As a , the P ...

PlayStation Portable
* Sony Mylo


Notes


References

*


External links


Official Sony website
{{Authority control Products introduced in 1979 1980s fads and trends 1990s fads and trends Products and services discontinued in 2010 Consumer electronics brands Audio players Japanese inventions Portable media players Sony Ericsson mobile phones Sony products