Music to go: Walkman debuted 35 years ago

The first Sony Walkman went on sale July 1, 1979. (Sony)
Remembering your first Sony Walkman?

Neal Augenstein | November 15, 2014 10:30 am

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WASHINGTON — “Music to go” was revolutionized, 35 years ago today.

Long before music fans carried music on mobile phones or iPods, the first Sony Walkman — model TPS-L2 — went on sale in Japan, July 1, 1979.

The 14-ounce blue and white Walkman was the first personal stereo device that played prerecorded music, meaning music fans could carry and select songs they liked, rather than relying on the whims of a radio disc jockey.

Originally known in the U.S. as the “Sound-About,” Sony eventually chose Walkman for its entire product line.

The stereo cassette player ran on 2 AA batteries, and featured a pair of headphone jacks, so two people could listen together, but no external speaker.

Unlike current digital devices, which facilitate instant song selection, changing songs on a Walkman required rewinding or fast-forwarding, and silently approximating how many songs were being skipped over to get to the song of choice.

The Walkman sold 50,000 units in the first two months.

In June 1980 the TPS-L2 was introduced in the United States.

With the popularity of the Walkman and comparable devices by brands including Panasonic, Toshiba, and Aiwa, cassette tapes outsold vinyl records for the first time in 1983, according to Time.

Shortly after Apple introduced the first line of iPod portable media players in 2001, Sony’s last play-only cassette model was introduced in 2002.

In the 2000s, Sony Ericsson’s Walkman phones failed to catch on with large audiences.

Still, many have fond memories of the Walkman:

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