It’s hard to imagine our lives without portable music–nowadays most of us can fit our entire music collection into an MP3 player the size of a deck of cards. But, 30 years ago, as people hefted boom boxes off their shoulders, they oooh’ed and ahhhh’ed in fascination at a little machine called the Walkman.
Originally, portable cassette players were marketed for people who needed to record audio clips for their work, like journalists and businesspeople, but Sony’s Walkman brought the idea of playing cassettes to the masses. Not only did many-a-Walkman have cassette players, AM/FM dials, and dual headphone jacks, they also had cool features like auto-reverse, play, and record.
Pictured here is the first Sony Walkman–the TPS-L2, introduced in 1979 and launched in the U.S. in 1980. This Walkman cost $200 in the U.S. and was called “one of the hottest new status symbols around” by The Wall Street Journal in 1980. Like consumers of today’s iPods, people had to wait at least a month to get the TPS-L2 because of a backlog in orders.
Sony sold 30,000 Walkmans in its first two months and 50 million in the following decade. This week, as the Sony Walkman turns 30, CNET decided to take a look at some of the original Walkmans and the top 10 songs from the year they came out.
Commonly known as the Walkman II, this 1981 WM-2 model sold 1.5 million units, making it the best selling cassette Walkman to date. Its design was considered much more modern and stylish than the TPS-L2. It first came out in metallic grey and later was sold in black and red.
Top 10 Billboard Songs of 1981:
1. “Bette Davis Eyes,” Kim Carnes
2. “Endless Love,” Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
3. “Lady,” Kenny Rogers
4. “(Just Like) Starting Over,” John Lennon
5. “Jessie’s Girl,” Rick Springfield
6. “Celebration,” Kool and The Gang
7. “Kiss On My List,” Daryl Hall and John Oates
8. “I Love A Rainy Night,” Eddie Rabbitt
9. “9 To 5,” Dolly Parton
10. “Keep On Loving You,” REO Speedwagon
The WM-4 came out in 1983 and was designed to be the budget version of earlier, more expensive models. It was one of the loudest Walkmans because it used four AA batteries rather than the traditional two.
Top 10 Billboard Songs of 1983:
1. “Every Breath You Take,” Police
2. “Billie Jean,” Michael Jackson
3. (From “Flashdance”…”What a Feelin,” Irene Cara
4. “Down Under,” Men at Work
5. “Beat It,” Michael Jackson
6. “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” Bonnie Tyler
7. “Maneater,” Daryl Hall and John Oates
8. “Baby Come to Me,” Patti Austin and James Ingram
9. “Maniac,” Michael Sembello
10. “Sweet Dreams (are Made of This)”, Eurythmics
Full article with all the walkman can be seen at CNET at