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Monday, November 1, 2010

Goodbye Sony Walkman Cassette Player

Sony Corporation announced last week that it has already stopped production of the iconic Sony Walkman Cassette Player and the lot that rolled out of their factory in Japan last April were the final batch.

The Walkman first came out in July 1979 and revolutionized the way we listen to our music.  I was still in high school then and we were still using vinyl records played in large bulky stereo systems to listen to our favorite tunes.  The first time I saw an actual unit was before I graduated from high school when a classmate brought one to school.  We were all excited to try the player and he gave all of us to try it.  The first song I heard on a Walkman was "Boat on the River" by Styx.

It wasn't until I was in college that I finally owned a Walkman. By then, it has become more common and smaller.  A housemate had one that was only slightly bigger than the case of the cassette tape.  It was also during that time that we started producing "mix tapes" that we share among ourselves.  A housemate who had a good system in their house would gather all our tapes and choose the best cuts.  He would give each of us a tape of the music he has selected and we would play them as we go about our usual activities.

When I started working, the Walkman proved to be indispensable during my trip to and from work.  I put on my headphone, pump up the volume and I am by myself.  We also used it in our work to record and transcribe meetings, lectures and seminars proceedings.  At about the same time, a new technology was also slowly encroaching in the market of the cassette tape.  The era of the compact disc has began.  I would say that this was the beginning of the end of the cassette tape and the Walkman.  In fact, a few years later I bought my own CD Walkman and never went back to the cassette tape.

Digital music also gave rise to the MP3 format and the cassette tape was almost completely pushed out of the shelves.  It was just a matter of time before someone would come up with an idea for a gadget to play MP3s and revolutionize the way we listen to our music yet another time.  In 2001, a company in Cupertino unleashed the iPod to the world and the final nail to the coffin of the cassette player was placed forever.

But that's how it is with technology.  It is always changing.  Someone always has something that will change our lifestyle and the way we do things.  

Sony said that their factories in China will continue to produce Walkman Cassette Players for their markets in Asia and the Middle East.  The name Walkman will also live on through their digital players, although these gadgets wasn't able to dominate the scene the way their older sibling did for decades.

Sony Walkman Cassette Player, dead at 31.  Thanks for all the musical fun and the memories.

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