Sony kills off the Walkman.

Pic of a Sony Walkman

And another fond childhood memory bites the dust.

Sony just announced the other day that they have ceased production of the cassette tape playing Sony Walkman in Japan. The last shipment was sent out this past April and there will be no more. Well, no more from Sony. Apparently some Chinese company has the rights to keep making them under the Sony name for sale outside of Japan.

It’s hard to believe that these devices are over 30 years old — the first was sold in 1979 — and I can clearly remember how it wasn’t long before everyone was producing portable tape players that were quite similar. I don’t think I ever actually owned a Sony Walkman, but I did own several of the imitators and I burned through more than my fair share of AA batteries listening to tapes until they wore out from overuse. In high school the trading of mix-tapes was a big activity for a lot of kids, myself included.

Of course these days the lowly Walkman has been supplanted by the plethora of MP3 players capable of storing months of music in them as opposed to 60 to 80 minutes. Looking back on it now it seems almost paleolithic in comparison, but even though I’ve not owned one for years it still feels like it wasn’t that long ago.

I suppose it’s a sign that I’m getting old that announcements like this make me feel a bit sad. I felt the same way when Sony announced they were dropping production of Floppy Disks earlier this year as well. Now that I think about it I wasn’t even aware that Sony was still making cassette tape Walkmans so I’m not sure why I should be disappointed to hear that they’ve stopped.

And yet I am. I had a lot of quality time with my imitation Walkman back in the day. Good times when there was less to worry about and more time to get things done.

Yeah, I’m a sentimental fool about some things.

6 thoughts on “Sony kills off the Walkman.

  1. When I was probably 10, I saved up for weeks to buy a knock-off Walkman. I remember the weeks I spent rollerblading around with my generic portable tape player blaring Weird Al’s “Alapalooza” into my earholes.

  2. I’m going to have to buy one one of these days since I still have a substantial number of cassettes lying around, and have been doing a “Today’s Cassette” thing on my blog when I listen to them.

  3. I’ll add myself to the list of “surprised they were still making them”, but it is a reminder that not all trends are as sudden and universal as they seem, when you take the entire world into account. Just because most Americans are rich and stupid enough to immediately dismiss useful technology and waste billions of dollars replacing everything doesn’t mean everyone else can afford to as well.

    Hell, I still have more tapes and records than cd’s. I have my own and my parents’ record collections, and I spent almost twenty years slowly collecting music on cassette tapes before cd’s came along. Hopefully, somebody will be making some kind of cassette tape deck for a long time, as I have tons of good music which I can’t afford to replace on disk, and some that is simply not to be found on disc. Not to mention the fact that not all recordings sound better on CD anyway…despite the hiss that both tape and record have, some albums sound better on those media…with really dynamic music, sometimes digital sounds too compressed and ‘clipped’ on the highs and lows.

  4. I agree with that, when tapes were common, they used to mix the studio master with tape-playback parameters in mind, so yeah some of those recordings sound bad on CD, even though sometimes they try to remaster it, and I hate that clippy sound you talked about! I have really sensitive ears for music though, because others tell me they can’t hear it, but I’m a musician

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