Fig. 1: Image of Walkman
Walkman, the name itself arouses curiosity. And not only does it have an interesting name but is an interesting gadget too. Walkman got its name from brand Sony. It brought a revolution in the music listening habits by allowing people to carry their favorite music while they were on move. Launch of pre-recorded tapes towards the end of 1960s had unwrapped new market already. And Compact tape size worked for Walkman and made it fit for mobility and car stereos as compared to 8 –tracks or vinyl.
In July 1979, Sony Corporation launched Sony Walkman, silver and blue colored portable player with flashy buttons, leather case and headphones. It also offered an extra earphone jack to let two people listen music at the same time but was a little bulky. One day Sony’s co-founder, Masura Ibuka while travelling for business, asked his executive deputy president to design a model that could be used with headphones. And then high quality, compact music player was launched.
This device now needed a name. Originally Walkman was launched in US with the name of Sound- About and in UK with Stowaway. But the only problem was that coming up uncopyrighted , new names for each country proved expensive. However Sony chose ‘Walkman’ as the name. Released first in Japan, the production proved to be a big hit. While the company had predicted sale of only 5000 units in the month, Walkman was sold, more than 50,000 in first two months.
Sony was although not the first company to launch portable audio or the portable transistors. Regency TR 1 which was of size of index card made its debut in 1954. But unique combination of privacy and portability offered by Walkman made it ideal product for consumers looking for portable stereos. TPS L2 was launched later in June 1980.
1980’s can be very well known as the decade of Walkman. Apart from Sony, brands such as Toshiba, Panasonic and Aiwa helped tapes to outsell the vinyl records in year 1983 for the first time. And by year 1986, word ‘Walkman’ had made a place in Oxford Dictionary. Fortunately, its invention clashed with beginning of aerobics craze among people and millions of them used it for keeping themselves entertained while working out. Between years 1987-97, popularity of Walkman reached to its highest.