Sony Walkman finally chews the great tape in the sky

Doff your hat, put your favourite '80s tune on the hi-fi and prepare to pour one out for a dear departed musical legend -- the legendary Sony Walkman is no more.

Doff your hat, put your favourite '80s tune on the hi-fi and prepare to pour one out for a dear departed musical legend. The legendary Sony Walkman personal cassette player has ceased production.

Amazingly, the last Walkman rolled off the production line on Friday -- that's 22 October 2010, more than thirty years after it was first created.

The Walkman was created in 1978 by Sony engineer Nobutoshi Kihara so his boss could listen to opera while flying across the Pacific. It was initially marketed in the UK as the Stowaway, but the uniquely Japanese nonsense name Walkman soon conquered the world, inspired the coolest Transformer, and helped define the thrusting new age of the 1980s -- wired for sound and "walking about with a head full of music / cassette in my pocket and I'm gonna use it / stereo -- out on the street you know -- woh oh woh".

The cassette tape pointed the way to the future even before it was superceded by the CD. Sure, the CD offered better quality, but it was really just vinyl with benefits: an evolutionary cul-de-sac. The cassette tape was portable and re-writable and put you in charge of what you recorded and listened to and in what order -- just like the iPod and the Spotify playlist. As Bow Wow Wow sang, "hit it, pause it, record it and play / turn it, rewind, and rub it away".

Even when a cassette went wrong and got chewed up, you got to stick a pen in it and whirl it round your head. Don't tell us you didn't enjoy that.

The Walkman legacy lives on in the form of Sony's line of MP3 players, including the NWZ-W252 , a Walkman you can wear on your jog and keep wearing as you step into the shower. Now that's progress.

 

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