audio: a Walkman down cassette land

Sony’s discontinuation of cassette Walkmans (in Japan at least) induces a bit of reverie.

My friend got the very first Sony Walkman straight outta Hong Kong when it first came out (it looks like this TPS-L2 at walkmancentral.com). Its innovation-that-died was the two headphone jacks, so you could listen with a friend. We tried it, quite strange. Unfortunately his weren’t labelled “guys” and “gals”.

The Walkman was an immediate hit, but it wasn’t quite revolutionary: I had a Walkman 7 years before there was a Walkman! I got (and still own) a Sony TC-44 mono dictation unit and would play music from it inside my jacket while hiking and skiing: the first Sports Walkman, cue Panasonic slogan “Just slightly ahead of our time”. There were no ear-bud headphones back then. Like all 1970s-early 80s Sony stuff, it was a high-quality tank, it worked for 20 years. I acquired all Sony’s accessories for it: leather case, pillow speaker, rechargeable battery, all high-quality. Enjoy a timeline of Sony’s glorious gadget history (which leaves out Elcaset, SQ quadraphonic, Glasstron, Sports Walkman, and many other innovations).

My very first cassette player was a Philips unit that was more geared towards dictation.  My dad got it for me along with four “musicasettes” (sic), two of which I still own; Bach Organ favorites by E. Power Biggs, and a fine performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris.

I still have my cassettes of my sister’s records and radio programs. (Yarr, piracy back when you had to push RECORD at the right split-second and adjust knobs and write song titles down.) I occasionally play them on a Denon DRM-510 deck. It replaced another Denon that replaced a Yamaha; unfortunately hi-fi cassette decks aren’t very durable.

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