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Heats about 40 years of Sony Walkman development

Excerpt from Sony's statement: "In 1979, an empire of portable music devices was born thanks to the subtle vision of Masaru Ibuka, Sony's founder and advisor, and Akio Morita, co. This is also the time when the Cassette TPS-L2 Walkman was born, forever changing the traditional music listening method before. "

Please read some more articles:
Learn about the history of portable music players
120 years of headset history

Sony Walkman – 35-year journey and typical equipment

Sony Walkman TPS-L2 – The first Walkman

The first person to develop the Sony Walkman was Kozo Ohsone, managing the Tape Recorder Business Division of Sony, and his associates, under the supervision and direction of Ibuka and Morita. In 1963, Philips Electronics developed and launched a new type of storage, cassette. After Philips registers copyright, this technology is provided free of charge to all manufacturers around the world. Sony and others began designing magnetic tape reader models to exploit the huge advantage of cassette tape: it is compact in size.

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The Sony Walkman is actually a stereo upgrade version of the early Pressman, one of the mono reader and tape recorders introduced by Sony in 1977. Along with the introduction of Sony Walkman is also The legendary H-AIR MDR3 headset is always included with the purchase. The advantage of MDR3 is that it is very light weight, of course, if compared to other earphones of that time, the weight is always about 300g ~ 400g. H-AIR MDR3 weighs only 50g but gives the same sound quality to them.

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Janet Jackson in advertising campaign for Sony Walkman, 1987

Sony Walkman was first introduced in Tokyo on June 22, 1979. By 1995, Sony Walkman sales were up to 150 million. So far the market has more than 300 different Sony Walkman models, extremely diverse, right?

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In terms of technology, the Sony Walkman actually has a not too new hardware design, basically a tape reader. Although technology is not new, but what makes the famous Walkman is convenient when owning a compact portable design. Sony Walkman does not seem to be developed exclusively for high-end user needs, but is directed towards mass users, and this is an incredibly great approach.

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Due to its compact size, the Walkman must use semiconductors instead of the traditional vacuum ball design. This makes it sound more clean and "strange", which also makes people curious. If the Pressman introduced by Sony is for news reporters, the Walkman is aimed at entertainment music users.

On the market at that time there were also microcassette models but not common, mainly due to less support by the manufacturer and the price was much more expensive. Users do not have the option to listen to music other than listening to the system at home or listening in a car. The Sony Walkman is the "rescue" for this demand.

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The first cassette player to be released by Sony in 1978 was TC-D5. This product has the advantage of being extremely easy to use and offering better sound quality than most desktop music players. Its price is quite harsh, however, in about 300,000 JPY, and also quite large in size, it is difficult to carry around with you in a convenient way.

Seeing this flaw, manager Kozo Ohsone and his team spent the day and night researching and eventually developing a new upgraded music player from Pressman. The new product is only about 35,000 ~ 40,000 JPY but it is much better sound for the predecessor (because it is stereo instead of mono). The secret here is that Kozo Ohsone decided to use cheaper components, and "tuck" them into a new, more stylish and small case.

The other problem is that the machine has no official name. Ohsone proposes the name "Walkman" inspired by Pressman, but does not get approval from senior management, This is because it sounds like being "translated from the original" Japanese and can make fun of. Other names (like Walky) began to be proposed but eventually Walkman was chosen. The uniqueness from the name that helped Walkman impress the public.

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Sony MZ-E2, $ 550 in 1993

As mentioned above, the headset that comes with Sony has a much lighter design than the earphones of the time, but in general it is still large, mainly because the earpad covers the ears and headband, which can be inconvenient to carry. according to the. Three years later, Sony designed and unveiled a new Walkman headset, which has a more compact design and a volume of about 50g.

Sony promoted the Walkman by hiring a group of young people walking around Ginza and inviting passersby to test the sound quality of the machine. Instead of holding a regular press conference to introduce the product, Sony chose to use the buses to invite famous actors, transport reporters around the streets. Reporters will listen to the promotional tour already available to enjoy the sound quality of the Walkman.

A month later, the Walkman began to appear in audio stores and quickly burned. Rather than anticipating from Sony that only young people are interested in the Walkman, this machine is mostly used by customers of all ages.

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There is a happy detail when the Walkman attacked the European and American markets, it was decided to change its name to Freestyle (for the Swedish market), Storaway (for the UK market) and Soundabout (for the US market). However, the young people here are impressed and prefer the name Walkman, so the name is kept the same.

Many people wonder and regret why the Walkman has a lack of recording capabilities, but Sony has absolutely a reason for this decision. The Pressman, the forerunner of the Walkman, has a recording feature because it was developed for news reporters, and the Walkman only targets music listeners, and few of them need recording features. In addition, a machine with too many redundant features will make it more difficult to use, and must increase costs, and Sony doesn't want that to happen.

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At that time, sales of handheld cassette recorders averaged 15,000 units per month. Sony aggressively produced 30,000 Walkman in the first batch, and with the extremely smart broadcast model, all of them quickly ran out of sound toy stores. That's not to mention the fact that then Sony's factories have to work hard to meet the needs of many new customers.

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It can be seen that the Walkman has created a new market for portable stereo devices. In June 1989, Walkman sales reached 50 million units sold, and in 1992 reached 100 million units sold. In 1995, Walkman hit a new milestone with 150 million units sold. If you include the 15-year anniversary version, currently on the market are about over 300 diverse Sony Walkman models for users to choose.

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So far, Sony Walkman is still launching new, more and more advanced models of sound quality, especially the WM-1Z and WM-1A music player models released two years ago.


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