It’s the end of an era: After 30 years, the venerable Sony Walkman portable cassette player is no more.
Gamers of a certain age will remember it well: The day that truly portable music first entered their lives. With the creation of the Walkman, a tiny (relatively speaking) cassette player that first came to market in 1979, Sony revolutionized music by making it possible for anyone to listen to what they wanted, wherever they wanted. In those heady days, nothing marked a person as a cutting-edge consumer more immediately and powerfully than the sight of a Walkman clipped to a belt.
Those days are long gone, of course. Sony sold roughly 200 million Walkman cassette players over the years but the inexorable march of progress had long ago rendered it virtually irrelevant and now it’s official: Sony has announced that the batch of Walkmans (Walkmen?) shipped to Japanese retailers in April will be the last. Ironically, the official announcement of the end of the cassette Walkman came just one day before the ninth anniversary of the iPod.
MP3 players are cool and portable CD players had their moment, but neither of them can hold a candle to the old Walkman for sheer transformative magic. The end of the Walkman may have been inevitable but for people who remember the thrill of walking uptown with the Flash Gordon Soundtrack blasting through their headphones, it’s still a bit of a wistful moment.