The batteries have finally run out, and the Sony Walkman has sung out its last dying breaths.
Sony has finally ceased production of its originally ground-breaking portable cassette player, causing lovers of music overlaid with interference to shed tears of nostalgia for what was one of the few remaining relics of vintage 1980’s technology.
While the Walkman’s spirit might live on in the form of its neater and sleeker descendant, the MP3 player, its passing truly marks the end of an era. However, fans of Sony’s unique, one-time, state of the art contraption will fondly remember it as the device that forever transformed the appreciation of music from a living room activity to one with the potential to annoy people everywhere, from buses and trains to school classrooms and public libraries.
The familiar clacking sound of a Walkman playing that could be heard whenever you found yourself sat next to some foam headphone-clad user while sitting on the tube, overlaid with faint but most definitely recognizable vocals from the likes of 80’s music stars such as The Pet Shop Boys and Shakin’ Stevens.
While aficionados of the Sony Walkman have long predicted its eventual demise thanks to the newer, more compact offerings provided by advances in digital technology, it nevertheless struggled on till now like a true warrior.
Following its 1979 birth, the Sony Walkman went on to sell a remarkable 220 million units, a fitting testament to the product’s status as the ultimate 1980’s icon, up there with the likes of filofaxes, shoulder pads, chunky mobile phones and David Bowie’s albums of the era.
The Walkman was tailor made for the widespread aspiration in the 1980’s for highly visible yet miniaturised consumerism, allowing everyone to enjoy the latest Blondie hits without needing to rush home first.
Nothing quite epitomizes the Walkman better than the image of a jogger happily trudging onwards with the assistance of the Rocky film soundtrack, while bored teenagers could find a form of escapism, pretending they lived somewhere slightly more edgy than suburban Colchester, walking to school with the sound of The Guns of Brixton thumping in their ears.
Sadly, technological advancements such as the dawn of CD’s and MP3’s led to the fast realisation that audio cassettes were not going to enjoy the prosperous future that everyone first had in mind for them. Rather, they were soon seen as cumbersome and annoying, and as likely to chew up and destroy your favourite albums as they were to deliver portable entertainment anywhere you went.
But while the death of the Walkman is sure to cause a twinge of sadness for anyone appreciative of 1980’s nostalgia, it will be forever remembered in the form of Apple’s iPod, the latest-generation in portable music players that continue to serve as public transport nuisance, probably one that will never truly leave us alone.
Rest in Peace.