The Legendary Sony Walkman Portable Audio Player Turns 40 Today

Anyone around in the '80s will remember people walking around with giant boom boxes on their shoulders blasting music to everyone in a massive radius. But there was also a much more discrete way to listen to music thanks to the Sony Walkman, which turned 40 years old today. For those not around in the '80s who may have never heard of a Walkman, it was a portable cassette tape player that launched in Japan in 1979.

walkman sony tps l2

It was expensive back in its day with a price in Japan that worked out to about $150. Critics of the device said the high cost would keep it from being successful, but it proved very popular selling 50,000 devices within two months. The first Walkman that launched in Japan was called the Walkman TPS-L2 and was blue and silver.

It was high-tech for its day with a pair of earphone ports to allow two people to listen at the same time. The Walkman proved so popular that it became a generic term to describe all portable cassette players, which is something that Sony didn't like. The Walkman progressed over the years and gained new technology including DAT (digital audio tape), MiniDisc, and "Duo" Memory Stick. As the MP3 came of age, Sony also made some Walkman devices that supported the digital music format.

The last Sony Walkman device we talked about was in 2015 when it unveiled a device that ran Android 4.2 and sold for $1,200. The device was called the Walkman NW-ZX2 and supported High-Resolution audio. The device supported digital music files up to 192 kHz/24 bit and MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, AIFF, WAV, and ALAC including DSD. The high-end device also had 128GB of storage space, which was a lot in its day.