After selling more than 200,020,000 units, Sony is finally pulling the plug on the cassette-based Walkman. Personally, I was surprised to find that they were still being made.
Note: To put that sales number into context, Apple has sold some 260,000,000 iPods worldwide.
The Walkman first went on sale in Japan on July 1st 1979 before later being exported worldwide. In its time it as popular and as widely loved as Apple's iPod. So rapid was the success of the Walkman that by 1983 the cassette had outsold the vinyl record.
It's hard to imagine how the Walkman changed the way we listen to music. That said, I think that the audio cassette, and the act that it was the first convenient file sharing medium, had a lot to do with the success of the Walkman. I remember how twin-tape decks, and later high-speed dubbing (which sounded less pirate-y than "high speed copying"), massively increased the demand for devices like the Walkman because it gave people easy access to cheap music ... the latest album could be yours for the cost of a blank cassette. Yeah, I guess we should be kinda sorry that all the copying we did (not to mention recording stuff off the radio) killed off the music industry ... ;)
I have fond memories of my first Walkman. Sure there was warble and flutter in the audio (really bad at times), heads needed cleaning, there was all that rewinding hassles, and I had countless tape-chewing incidents, but I still loved my Walkman. It lasted years, suffering countless crash landings and even the odd soaking. It might still be here somewhere ...
Now get off my lawn.
Oh, and by the way, you'll still be able to get a Walkman, just not a cassette model. Sony will continue to manufacture CD and MiniDisc based models.
So, who has fond memories of the Walkman.