Published On: 01 July 2009
Walkman, a name that had become synonymous with portable stereo cassette players, turns 30 on July 1, 2009.
This historic stereo cassette player first went on sale on July 1, 1979.
The first Walkman was built by Nobutoshi Kihara, an engineer with Sony in 1978.
Since Sony had planned to to sell the product worldwide, initial suggestions were to call the product by different names in different countries; "Soundabout" in the United States, "Stowaway" in the United Kingdom and "Freestyle" in Sweden.
But when Akio Morita, Sony's co-founder, went on a trip to Europe prior to the launch, he discovered that the name "Walkman" was already very popular. Morita decided to stick to the name.
In 1986 the word Walkman was listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.
The initial sotck of 30,000 of the first Walkman model, TPS-L2, was sold out in just three months. TPS-L2 went on to register 1.5 million units sold. The original Walkman was as big as a paperback book, and weighed 390 grams. It wasn't cheap, especially for those days, costing 33,000 yen ($340)
By the 10th anniversary of its launch over 50 million Walkman units had been manufactured.
The successor to the TPS-L2, WM-2, launched in 1981 established the Walkman brand across the world. It sold over 2.5 million units.
The WM-R2, launched in 1982, was the first Walkman to have recording abilities. It also came with an anti-rolling mechanism.
1984 marked the arrival of first Discman (portable CD player), the D-50.
In 1996 Sony launched the D-V500, the first Discman able to play video CDs.
To commemorate two decades of the Walkman, Sony released the WM-EX20, the 20th Anniversary Walkman.
In 2000, came the NW-E3, one of Sony's earliest digital audio players. The NW-E3 came with 64MB of built-in flash memory, weighed 33 grams and allowed 120 minutes of playback.
The NW-HD1, was the first hard drive-based Walkman. Launched in 2004, the NW-HD1 came with a 20GB internal memory.
In 2005, Sony launched its first Walkman branded mobile phone, the Sony Ericsson W800.
On its 30th anniversary, things are not so bright for the Walkman. There's speculation in the Japanese media that Sony should drop the Walkman brand, especially in the face of overwhelming competition from Apple's iPod.
What the iPod is to today's youth, the Walkman was this and much more for generations growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.