Personal audio became an expensive but realistic phenemenon on 22nd June, 1979, thanks to the Sony Walkman TPS-L2. Originally borne out of company founder Akio Morita’s desire to listen to classical music while flying, the Walkman was created by Nobutoshi ‘Mr Walkman’ Kihara, and soon became a real development project. Staff at Sony HQ and Japanese journalists were given
samples at a press launch, and quickly spread the word around the busy streets of Tokyo. It wasn’t long before the appeal spread globally.
The £219 price tag soon fell, after early adopters snapped units up. Popularity reached such levels that, in 1986, ‘Walkman’ entered the Oxford English Dictionary, and the player was seen in a staggering number of blockbuster movies – most famously, perhaps, in 1984’s The Terminator. In 1979, Akio Morita said, “This is the product that will satisfy those young people who want to listen to music all day. They’ll take it everywhere with them.” And who could disagree? After numerous cassette versions, CD and MiniDisc versions of the Walkman were released. Ultimately, however, they never achieved the same level of success as the iconic original.
This month, Sony have released the Walkman X, a touchscreen, Wi-Fi enabled portable player with its sights set squarely on the iPod Touch. If the rise of the iPod has taught Sony anything, it’s that a genuine portable revolution in technology appeals to everyone, regardless of age. After all, with the Walkman TPS-L2 that’s exactly what Sony created in 1979.
Here's a cover from 1979...The end of 1979 was marked with this issue, which carried the line ‘computerised buying guide facts on 2000 hi-fi units’ and unveiled ‘trendy’ rack systems.
And here's an advert from the same issue...Cassettes were big business and TDK advertised five varieties. Our favourite is the TDK SA Super Avilyn, a ‘cobalt enriched formulation, offering a higher MOL across the frequency spectrum’.