Flashback 1979: The Walkman Is Born

Few products have the power to single-handedly change the course of history. Thirty-seven years ago this month Sony introduced a portable cassette player that would forever change the way we experience music on-the-go.

That player, of course, is the iconic Walkman. The era of “personal audio” was born, setting the stage for the iPod revolution that would put “1,000 songs in your pocket” 22 years later.

Although bulky by today’s standards, the original Walkman TPS-L2 was a mind-blowing revelation in its day, allowing people to enjoy music through lightweight headphones connected to a player you could put in a (large) pocket or clip to your belt. The concept of walking around listening to high-fidelity music was novel and quickly embraced as not only socially acceptable but hip.

From Sony’s Product & Technology Milestones page: “Contrary to those inside and outside the company who claimed that ‘without a recording function, it won't sell,’ it became a huge success, proposing new lifestyles which became popular around the world.”

For more on the original Walkman, see the Verge’s The history of the Walkman: 35 years of iconic music players.

Are you old enough to remember the first time you heard music through a Walkman? Share your experience!

Electroliner's picture

The Sony Walkman was originally called the Sony Soundabout.
I still have the packaging for my TPS-L2. The name Walkman appeared in late 1980.

What a game changer. I first auditioned one in January 1980. I was just floored how nice it sounded at the time.

Adding a portable DBX PPA-1 decoder unit to playback DBX type II encoded tapes made a really nice combination.