If you were alive and listening to music in the ’80s, the Sony Walkman is probably a familiar memory to you. The cassette Walkman was in the ’80s to what the iPod is today – the innovator and leader of portable sound devices. Now Sony has finally stopped making the cassette Walkman in Japan. While they actually stopped producing them in April, they’re selling through their stock now, and when they’re gone, they’re gone for good.
Sony’s first portable cassette player rolled off assembly lines on July 1, 1979. The $200 device was the first truly portable personal listening device. There were AM/FM transistor radio or gigantic boom boxes before then, but the Walkman was a revolution for personal listening. Before CDs truly took hold in the mid ’80s (the first CD to sell one million copies wasn’t until 1985 – Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms), the cassette was the best way to listen to music on the go. Since the Walkman launched, Sony has sold over 220 million of them. However, according to PC World, they’ve only sold about 34 million in the last eleven years, which makes sense when you factor in not only the ride of digital music players, but the fact that portable CD players also enter the equation.
But while the cassette Walkman is a thing of the past in Japan, Sony is still manufacturing them in China for overseas markets – including the United States. In fact, Best Buy is offering a cassette Walkman for $40. We’re a little surprised to see that they’re still selling cassette players in the United States, but there’s probably still some people that still have cassette libraries out there, and with the resurgence in vinyl, it’s probably only a matter of time until there’s a retro cassette craze.