The Sony Walkman Turns 30



The Sony Walkman turned 30 today and yet no one has wheeled out a cake or piñata to celebrate. In fact Sony seems to be a bit bashful about this milestone birthday. Whether it is because of other issues going on in the company that take precedent or because the Walkman’s major opponent, Apple’s iPod, has been stealing the Walkman’s fans left and right, the Walkman isn’t getting the appreciation and celebration it deserves on this momentous occasion. Sony has been too busy with the Walkman’s younger siblings such as Vaio personal computers and Cyber-shot cameras to devote any real time to this virtually-defunct machine which, over the course of its 30-year lifespan, has been sold
385 million times. Instead, Sony devoted a small section in its archival exhibit alongside other discontinued products. It’s hard to keep up when in just 8 years Apple has already sold 210 million iPods (a number it probably took Sony approximately 16 years to reach, if you do the math). Nonetheless, the Sony Walkman was a major step forward in “Listening to Stereophonic Sound While Walking” technology (as Sony’s online archive puts it), and for that we are forever grateful.

—Meryl Natow

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The Sony Walkman Turns 30