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Sony Discontinues the Walkman

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the many-fond-memories dept.

Sony 250

Ponca City writes "Crunchgear reports that after selling 200,020,000 units worldwide since its inception over thirty years ago, Sony has announced that it is pulling the plug on the manufacture and sales of the Walkman, the world's first portable (mass-produced) stereo. Magnetic cassette technology had been around since 1963, when Philips first created it for use by secretaries and journalists, but on July 1, 1979, Sony Corp. introduced the Sony Walkman TPS-L2, a 14 ounce, blue-and-silver, portable cassette player with chunky buttons, headphones, a leather case, and a second earphone jack so that two people could listen in at once. The Walkman was originally introduced in the US as the 'Sound-About' and in the UK as the 'Stowaway,' but coming up with new, uncopyrighted names in every country it was marketed in proved costly so Sony eventually decided on 'Walkman' as a play on the Sony Pressman, a mono cassette recorder the first Walkman prototype was based on. The popularity of Sony's device — and those by brands like Aiwa, Panasonic and Toshiba who followed in Sony's lead — helped the cassette tape outsell vinyl records for the first time in 1983 as Sony continued to roll out variations on its theme with over 300 different Walkman models, adding such innovations as AM/FM receivers, bass boost, and auto-reverse on later models and even producing a solar-powered Walkman, water-resistant Sport Walkman, and Walkmen with two cassette drives." For now, at least, the Walkman brand lives on for some of Sony's media players and phones.

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250 comments

1st (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996788)

1st1st1st1st1st1st1st1st1st1st1st2nd

1st1st1st1st1st

3rd hehe

Didn't know they still made it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996790)

Wow, missed my chance.

Re:Didn't know they still made it. (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997648)

You probably still have a chance, since they just announced they are discontinuing it... I doubt this will increase demand. You may have troubles finding a store that still carries them new, however, chances are you could find an old one on eBay if you looked hard.. they were that popular that there are probably many old ones whose owners don't want them anymore, and hope to sell to collectors/hoarders of odds and ends.

Just imagine... you could put 90 minutes of music! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996802)

That's like 15-20 of your favorite songs. Take that iPod.

What a waste! (0)

hipwah (1920094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996818)

Am I wrong, but is that more units than the total human population? Needless to say... Dead man Walkman.

Re:What a waste! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996856)

Am I wrong, but is that more units than the total human population? Needless to say... Dead man Walkman.

I think you need to learn how to count again. The last time I checked, 200 million (if counting the cassette-based units; 400m otherwise) was considerably less than 7 billion.

Re:What a waste! (-1, Troll)

hipwah (1920094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996876)

Damn, my mistake... anyone would think I'm American!

Re:What a waste! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997030)

Or a troll.

Re:What a waste! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996872)

Just so you can be sure of yourself: Yes...you are wrong.

The current human population is more than 34 times the number of Walkmans sold.

Really a low number (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997024)

Yeah it feels kind of a low number, you'd expect at least a significant portion of the world population to have (or had) a walkman by now. But that 200 million number refers to Sony models, and of course there are many products from other manufacturers that (ignoring Sony's brand name) would commonly be called 'walkman'. Even if limited to audio-cassette based ones. I wonder what's total number - anyone got some references?

Re:Really a low number (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997522)

No refs, but if we say that Sony had 30% of the market over the entire lifetime of the product - a feasible number as there were many, many imitators - then that suggests there were over half a billion of the things. More often than not I would encounter friends with a non-Sony unit, so one in three sounds like a good rough guess.

Re:What a waste! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997042)

Yeah, there's less than two hundred million people in the world. Hey, douche bag: There are more people than that in the US alone.

Re:What a waste! (1)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997068)

How did you even come close to thinking that 200,020,000 is anywhere close to ~7,000,000,000? There are ~310,000,000 people in the US alone.

Re:What a waste! (0, Offtopic)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997102)

Only seven milliard? I thought it was seven billion...

Daddy what's a cassette? (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996826)

Hard to believe something that was once the #1 format for music (late 80s and early 90s) is now foreign to anyone college aged or younger.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996852)

The same thing has happened to floppy disks and VHS.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996882)

VHS was an inferior format anyways. BetaMax ftw (unfortunately it lost the format wars).

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996964)

pfft, wandering minstrels FTW!

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997034)

Ah BetaMax, yet another another superior proprietary Sony format. I already feel so lucky that BluRay won this format war.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997198)

Bluray's not owned by Sony (like beta was). Bluray is owned by multiple companies under the umbrella organization called "Bluray Consortium" similar to the DVD consortium.

BTW vhs was also proprietary. It was owned by JVC. I didn't see that our lives were harmed by that fact?
And CDs and Cassettes are also proprietary.
The world did not end when they were dominant.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (5, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997178)

>>>BetaMax ftw

Myth. VHS and Betamax have almost-identical specs (see below). In fact VHS has one advantage Betamax did not have: It could hold 10.5 hours per tape, while Betamax maxed-out at just 5.5 hours. VHS is the superior standard, and that's why it won.

VHS Bmax feature
yes yes Hi-Fi sound?
250 240 Lines of horizontal resolution (420 for Super VHS)
3.0 3.0 Luma Bandwidth in megahertz (5.5 for Super VHS)
0.6 0.6 Chroma Bandwidth
10+ 5.5 Hours of record time

Oh and before you mention professional usage, that's BetaCAM not betamax. Completely different format (like Mac vs. PC vs. Amiga floppies). While Betacam was superior to VHS, Betamax was not. It was mostly identical, or inferior (in terms of record time).

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997586)

Myth. VHS and Betamax have almost-identical specs (see below). In fact VHS has one advantage Betamax did not have: It could hold 10.5 hours per tape, while Betamax maxed-out at just 5.5 hours. VHS is the superior standard, and that's why it won.

WTF? I have a VHS VCR, though I haven't used it for 10 or 15 years.

The longest readily available tape was the T-120. At the standard settings, it was enough for two hours of video. You could record in Extended play mode for six hours, but the results were horrible, and often quite fatiguing on the eyes. I never used the EP mode, and was even a bit leery of the medium speed setting (4 hrs).

10.5 hours per tape sounds like a security tape setting. "At 10.15 this morning, a grey blob entered the store, and subsequently pulled out a dark gray blob, and brandished it at the cashier."

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997344)

VHS was an inferior format anyways. BetaMax ftw (unfortunately it lost the format wars).

Betamax was introduced in 1975.

The color TV with RF input only - essentially every color set built since the introduction of color in 1954 - would have had a resolution no better than about 300 lines.

The ability to record a movie or a football game on a single cassette was of more immediate value than video enhancements to be seen only on a static Indian Head test pattern.

VHS manufacturers found a better solution to the drum miniaturization issue. (It involved four heads doing the work of two.) Because it used standard video signals, VHS camcorders could review footage in the camcorder and copy to another VCR for editing. (Two Beta decks and a Betamovie were required for similar functionality, and this still did not allow a videographer to review footage in the field.) This shifted the home movie advantage dramatically away from Beta Betamax [wikipedia.org]

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997504)

it didn't loose, it was strangled by its parent company

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (-1, Offtopic)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997000)

There are still lots of floppy disks, but at least now we have Viagra to fix it... /Rimshot

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997146)

There are still lots of floppy disks, but at least now we have Viagra to fix it... /Rimshot

If you have a condition where you can accurately refer to it as a "disk", I think you have more problems than Viagra can fix.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (0, Offtopic)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997208)

Hey man, I was talking about other people. Me, I have a hard drive!
Damn, all those childhood stupid jokes just keep coming back. It's like riding a bicycle. Thanks Slashdot.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (0, Offtopic)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997084)

Hard to believe something that was once the #1 format for music (late 80s and early 90s) is now foreign to anyone college aged or younger.

The same thing has happened to floppy disks and VHS.

And good spelling.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996904)

It might happen faster to iPod... (which itself is widespread only in few places)

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

BrentH (1154987) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996994)

The iPod isn't really a format, the format would be high capacity digital audio player I'd say, colloquially known as MP3-players.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997046)

And cassette Walkman wasn't the only portable cassette audio player...so? (though it seems its trademark became more universally genericized)

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997218)

Well MP3 is already obsolete. The new dominant format is now AAC on iTunes, and its cousin AAC+SBR aka HE-AAC for net streaming.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (3, Interesting)

scottrocket (1065416) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996916)

Yeah, they're actually more familiar with old-school vinyl than cassette. Life is strange.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997210)

I suspect that there are two phenomena at work, actually seen all over when it comes to deprecation of technology:

1. Some formats/technologies are inferior even at the time they were made, but justified by the compromises of the time. In this case, analog cassette tape was relatively low-fi(gradually improved, but wow and flutter really sucked), had to be rewound, and was vulnerable to tape-chewing incidents. Even at the time, it was justified against reel-to-reel only by cost and portability(nice thing about tape is, for all its vices, you can always make it better just by making it bigger) and was at best sonically even with vinyl, but again smaller and cheaper. People who are into 'retro-chic' tech are rather less likely to latch onto the compromise tech, unless the good stuff was so wildly expensive that it remains unreachable to them to this day.

2. The 'futuristic'-'contemporary'-'obsolete'-'retro'-antique' progression: As a technology ages, its appeal changes in a rather nonlinear way. During the 'futuristic' stage, it is lustworthy; but either absurdly expensive or not actually ready for the real world. High mindshare; but zero marketshare. The 'contemporary' phase marks the peak of a technology's marketshare, when it is the basis of the vast majority of whatever systems it is relevant to; but this actually weakens its appeal. People might value what it does; but it is common to the point of banality. 'Obsolete' is the nadir of something's appeal. Marketshare is still quite high, albeit with gradually declining install base; but it is perceived as actively inferior to whatever has become 'contemporary'. It is often still architecturally similar, so it has no exotic appeal; but is worse, slower, uglier, whatever. A wintel from 1995 would qualify. Architecturally, it is nearly identical to one of today, only worse in basically every respect. 'Retro' is a stage that only some technologies every achieve. Here, the technology has become sufficiently alien from whatever is 'contemporary' that its flaws and quirks are seen as charming, rather than directly compared against the present, and any unique advantages it had have rabid fanboys. Things like record players, c64s, anything BeOS(retrocomputing in general, really), are here. 'Antique' is somewhat similar to retro; but applies to technologies so old or esoteric that they have basically fallen out of the market. Only a few hardcore specialists or obscure hobbyists have them, production is either artisanal or nonexistent, and so forth. Edison cylinder machines, difference engines, Thinking Machines systems, and the like qualify.

Tape is a poor contender on both points. Even during its time of greatest popularity, it was always the poor cousin to something cooler; but either more expensive or less portable. It also seems to have missed out on 'retro'(with the very limited exception of being a useful source for found-sound artists/musicians of various sorts); but still has decades to go before it has a shot at being antique.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (3, Interesting)

scottrocket (1065416) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997388)

"It also seems to have missed out on 'retro'(with the very limited exception of being a useful source for found-sound artists/musicians of various sorts);"

That just reminded me of this [wikipedia.org] . It seems some indy film makers still enjoy "the look" this cassette camera generates.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997574)

Then there are things like CED [wikipedia.org] (essentially a vinyl record storing video), which manage to skip right from 'futuristic' to 'antique'.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997258)

I hate vinyl. Most of my 80s collection is on cassette due to the better sound quality (no skipping, no static, no motor hum in the needle).

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (4, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996932)

It was also the first convenient format for file sharing.

Reel-to-reel tape decks were "servers" to which vinyl records were ripped. Sneakernet took care of the logistics.

Now help me find my lawn...

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997056)

Sneakernet was definitely better than the Internet in some ways. Sure latency sucked, but the bandwidth was amazing. Plus as long as you traded just with friends the likelihood of the BSA finding out about your pirated software was almost nothing.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (-1, Redundant)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997214)

Sneakernet was definitely better than the Internet in some ways.

We're talking early 80's here, people hadn't heard of the internet back then (and that thing named WWW didn't exist yet). Wiki says the BSA didn't exist either (founded 1988), and software industry was still in its infancy - copyright issues included. So in the context of audio tapes, your comment makes no sense.

Also IIRC it was quite common to tape directly from vinyl -> audio cassettes. It's not that the original records were especially rare or expensive, and (since analog) every intermediate step means lower quality tape recording. More likely reel-to-reel tape was used to prevent records from wearing out quickly.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1, Informative)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997246)

It was also the first convenient format for file sharing.

I remember seeing a twin-deck walkman (it opened on each side) so that you could copy tapes on the move, while listening to them.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997622)

Twin-deck home units were very common for that purpose.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997382)

Reel-to-reel != cassette. Reel-to-reel is the AEG Magnetophon system and all of its derivatives, where you have two reels that are placed on the machine separately, and you have to thread the tape manually from one reel to the other.

Reel-to-reel decks were large and costly enough that I don't expect them to have been very popular for vinyl ripping. An 18 cm reel cost as much as an LP, iirc.

Cassette tape decks were the instruments of the first large-scale music pirates.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997672)

"I don't expect them to have been very popular for vinyl ripping."

I must have been hallucinating the many reel-to-reels we used at the time (early 1980s). Standard procedure was buy an album, play it once, then rip what you like. Store vinyl, play reel-to-reel for long listening sessions, and rip to (expendable) cassette for car or Walkman use. Typical processing included Burwen Research boxes for reducing noise on imperfect LPs.

The home PC replaced a LOT of once-expensive equipment.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996954)

And nothing of value was lost. The only good thing about cassettes was compact size, otherwise they pretty much sucked.

I still have a bunch of (mostly out of print) VHS tapes I've been clinging to. But the shoeboxes of audio cassettes are long gone, no hesitation tossing those.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997116)

I still use cassettes and also record new ones (from vinyl records). My reason is that

1. I have a lot of cassettes already, copying them to CDs or MDs or whatever would take a long time and cost a lot of money (because I would need the CD or MD recorder and a lot of blank media) and would get me no result (a CD is bigger than a cassette anyway).
2. I have enough tape decks - one in my car, two portables (one bigger, one smaller) and one stationary tape deck at home. I also have two lower quality tape decks that I can use if the quality requirements are not that high and I don't want to wear out my better ones.
3. Recording to a cassette is easier than with a CR recorder (if you mess up you have to throw the CD-R out, but with a cassette you can try again) and more reliable than using a computer.

Because of 1. I'll keep a few tape decks working, so 2. will be true. Because of 2. and 3. I'll keep recording music to cassettes.

In a sense, I'm locked in to cassettes.

I also record TV shows to VHS tapes.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997268)

>>>I'm locked in to cassettes.
>>>I also record TV shows to VHS tapes.

My brother! I've found you. ;-) When my Metal tape deck died in 2003, so too did my recording off the FM radio. No great loss. There's really no need anymore, because you can rip any song you want off Youtube and store it on c: or on Googlemail.

But my Super VHS? Still use it. It creates perfect DVD-quality copies from my DTV converter box, which I can store indefinitely on my bookshelves.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997340)

Music sound quality on youtube varies from video to video, but you can find a video with good enough sound quality. However, a lot of the music I like can be only found on records and tapes, so I either have to buy the record or borrow it and copy it to tape (depending on which option I find). And the audio quality of a tape is quite good too - Imation TDK SA tapes might not be what they once were, but they are still quite good. There are also higher quality cassettes, but they are more expensive.

I use regular VHS though. SVHS tapes are a bit too expensive, but since I mainly record music TV shows the video quality is good enough for me and HiFi audio quality on VHS and SVHS is the same.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997332)

I had hundreds of casettes. I dumped them all in one go when I got broadband internet.

Seriously, cassettes were used because there weren't any alternatives back then. I sure couldn't afford to buy everything on vinyl, so I copied a lot from friends. And they copied everything I got on vinyl, ofcourse. Other than that, cassettes are a rotten despicable format. Turn over the tapes (auto-reverse eats tapes) every half hour (those longer tapes get eaten anyway) and don't start about sound quality. Yes, with the expensive high-end tapes it was better, but those where, well, expensive.

So, after I got a fast internet connection I took out my boxes of tapes and downloaded the complete discography of every artist I encountered on the cassette label. Took me about an evening of searching and about a day or two of downloading and fixing the filenames.

There, done and done. Tapes got dumped, Loads more closetspace, everybody happy.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

Pentium100 (1240090) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997410)

Well, if the music of your favorite artists is available for download - great. In my case, it's usually not.

Also, I don't care about having to turn the tape over. After all, I have to turn a record over almost twice as frequently. With MP3 I usually have to select each and every song or spend time making a playlist. And TDK SA90 that costs ~1.5EUR when used with Dolby B has great quality.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997526)

Believe me, your favorite artist is also available for download. No matter how obscure, it's there.

As for making a playlist, I don't bother. I've got a few directory trees with genre (think "mellow background pop", "intense workout trance", "annoy the neighbors deathmetal") and hit shuffleplay.

But, to be perfectly honest, I lately find myself playing internet radio streams. Having locally stored music seems somewhat old fashioned...

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997348)

I've still got a lot of cassettes I recorded, and somewhat original (lots of video game recordings, for one). I can't believe I'm now one of those "old" people with media many people have never seen before.

Re:Daddy what's a cassette? (1)

JoltinJoe77 (1199263) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997544)

I have four young children and almost everything we listen to or watch is stored digitally and instantly available. When they grow up it will be hard for them to imagine having to put anything physical into a unit in order to watch it or listen to it. The main exception is the current generation of game consoles, but I anticipate the next generation of consoles making everything available via download (at least optionally). Heck, with DVR they already struggle to understand if what they want to watch isn't available right this second.

Minor error (0, Offtopic)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996848)

The Walkman was originally introduced in the US as the "Sound-About" and in the UK as the "Stowaway," but coming up with new, uncopyrighted names in every country it was marketed in proved costly so Sony eventually decided on "Walkman" as a play on the Sony Pressman, a mono cassette recorder the first Walkman prototype was based on.

You can't copyright a name, at least in the US. The OP should say "untrademarked names" or something to the same effect but not as poorly worded.

Re:Minor error (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996968)

You can't copyright a name, at least in the US.

Yep. You also can't copyright a name in the UK. The only thing you can do is trademark them.

Re:Minor error (2, Informative)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997012)

Thanks for the insightful comment. Everyone here at /. was at loss without this important clarification. Now can we get back to nostalgic memories of childhood days and leave silly pedantics alone for a few minutes?
Jesus, some people never quit.

BTW, "but not as poorly worded" is also a poorly worded sentence, but I'll leave it as an exercise for you to fix on your own. I don't believe in FTFYs.

Re:Minor error (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997082)

So according to you the summary should just read
"Post your nostalgic childhood memories below."
and contain none of that pesky historical information? What a saving!

Re:Minor error (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997200)

No, just that I believe most people here understood that the summery was talking about a trademark and not copyright, and the parent just came off as a show off.

Re:Minor error (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997614)

Ya know, for the longest time I thought that FTFY meant Fuck That, Fuck You. Maybe it still does.

Back then "walkman" was fine? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996864)

Nowadays this would be called a Walkperson.

Re:Back then "walkman" was fine? (0, Offtopic)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997020)

Hey, my dog used it also, you insensitive clod!

Re:Back then "walkman" was fine? (1, Funny)

iammani (1392285) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997176)

Would you please think of the differently-abled?

Checking some history, one interesting tidbit... (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996884)

When Sony released the first Walkmans, they featured two headphone jacks and a "talk button." When pressed, this button activated a microphone and lowered the volume to enable those listening to have a conversation without removing their headphones.[2] Sony Chairman Akio Morita added these features to the design for fear the technology would be isolating. Though he "thought it would be considered rude for one person to be listening to his music in isolation" (Morita quoted in Patton[3]), people bought their own units rather than share

(emphasis mine)
Hm, maybe communicating across the wall, via IM, with the family/etc. isn't so bad after all...

(the topic of "soundtrack to life" also worth noting, where the above quote came from [wikipedia.org] )

Halloween (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996900)

Well it was about time no? My holloween costume from last year included a yellow walkman, some folks could have thought I was the Encino Man lol...I didn't know they were still in production!

Music industry probably freaked out.. (1)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996946)

I suspect if we look hard enough we could find some music industry comment freaking out about how this new technology was going to end the world...

Re:Music industry probably freaked out.. (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997446)

Yeah they were freaking out about cassette tapes too. And FM Radio, for that matter. The entertainment industry has a flawless record of freaking out about new technologies, even after it's shown that they make more money with those new technologies.

In 1995 I attended a COMDEX with an exhibitor badge provided by IBM. While there I met some tinfoil-hat guys who lectured me on how the RIAA was Evil (They pronounced it with a capital E, don't ask me how) and told me about how they were planning on device-to-device encryption with the intent to kill off home recording Once And For All! That was actually the first time I'd heard of the RIAA, but those guys were astoundingly prescient. Perhaps their tinfoil had somehow managed to tune into The Future. Thus far the RIAA's implementation has been somewhat more flawed than the tinfoil guys imagined, but that could just be because you have to ease the public into that sort of thing. If you just make it impossible to record stuff overnight, the public would revolt.

Anywhoo, just thought I'd toss that out there. Must dash now, need to purchase some heavy duty tinfoil.

No story about the Sony Walkman is complete... (5, Interesting)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996950)

... without this link [cnet.com] : Finally after 20 years of court battles, the electronics giant agrees to pay the inventor of the device that made its success.

Re:No story about the Sony Walkman is complete... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997266)

Almost sounds like a patent troll to me. What's the likelihood that between him receiving the patent in 1977 in Italy of all places and Sony pushing out the first walkman in 1979 that sony actually ever looked at that patent? Unless they found out within the same month about the patent, immediately begin research and development, while at the same time having the factory set up to produce them before they were even designed... it seems unlikely that they "stole" anything. More like coincidence that more than one person thought of putting music on tape.

Re:No story about the Sony Walkman is complete... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997398)

Looks more like SONY taking a little guy's idea and running with it, thinking that he'll never have the funds to take them through court, going out of their way to make it as unprofitable as possible for him to actually get what he is due. I'm pretty sure that some variant of that phrase is hanging on the corporate walls at SONY - "Take all ya can! Give nothin' back!"

Sony of yesteryear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996960)

I'd feel somewhat more differently if Sony were still the company of the 70s and 80s, a Japanese company concerned with quality and style trying to prove its product to the world. Now they just coast, especially in Japan where their brand is still synonymous with quality because of their past successes, building for next quarter as opposed to the next 5 years (with the exception of the PS3, and even that has been mishandled). There was a reason I still have two working Sony Walkman tape players from the 80s and a working Betamax player (and a still-working set of Beta tapes including Raiders of the Lost Ark), a working 20" Sony Trinitron from 1987(ish), and yet I went through 6 PS2s and 2 PS3s. And I certainly didn't lose the ability to record TV shows on that Betamax player through a firmware update.

Re:Sony of yesteryear (1)

devphaeton (695736) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997302)

I'd feel somewhat more differently if Sony were still the company of the 70s and 80s, a Japanese company concerned with quality and style trying to prove its product to the world. Now they just coast, especially in Japan where their brand is still synonymous with quality because of their past successes, building for next quarter as opposed to the next 5 years (with the exception of the PS3, and even that has been mishandled). There was a reason I still have two working Sony Walkman tape players from the 80s and a working Betamax player (and a still-working set of Beta tapes including Raiders of the Lost Ark), a working 20" Sony Trinitron from 1987(ish), and yet I went through 6 PS2s and 2 PS3s. And I certainly didn't lose the ability to record TV shows on that Betamax player through a firmware update.

Funny....
I have an original PS2 (the big bricky one), and it outlasted my PS3. Blu-Ray drive blew up right after a firmware update. The fact that Sony has to issue press releases that firmware updates aren't the cause of drive failures, kinda says sumpin, no?

I owned one (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996972)

I remember buying this at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas, Texas when it came out.

Fresh out of college with no experience, and with a starting salary greater than what my uncle earned with 30 years experience as a skilled machinist, I paid $300 if I recall.

Which was a lot of money at the time. I remember hesitating before buying it, but rationalized that after four tough years in college, and given my salary, I had earned it.

It was robustly built and had many parts made from metal, and it lasted for many years. (Unlike the vast majority of consumer products made nowadays.)

I don't recall what I did with it. Upon this nostalgic reflection, I'm glad I bought it.

Pet Pev (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996998)

You CAN'T copyright a name. You can trademark a name, but that is a completely different law, with complete different rules!

Re:Pet Pev (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997120)

Well, if the name is long and creative enough, I'm sure you also can copyright it. For example, you could use a 20 line poem as name of your product. It's probably not a good idea, but it's certainly not forbidden.

Tune in, turn on, drop out (2, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997040)

Way back in the early 80's, an old, wise Princeton professor complained about this new trend of students constantly wearing Walkmans. His comment was, "They seem to think that life must have a soundtrack album, like a film."

Another comment was about the trend to wear long black coats, or sectional down jackets: "They either try to look like Raskolnikov or hand grenades."

Nowadays, when I'm out and about, most of the younger folks seem to be "tuned in." To the extent that they cannot hear a car honking at them when they ride their bikes through a red light.

Best one (1)

johnw (3725) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997112)

My favourite Walkman - and I've still got one - is the one which is exactly the same size as a compact cassette case. It uses just a single AA battery and is an utter masterpiece of miniaturisation. There is a slight trick to how they get all the guts and motors of a cassette player within the size of a standard case, but it's still very clever.

Re:Best one (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997596)

Also still have such late one...somewhere. One of the best things about it - battery life.

I estimate around 90 hours. Once I popped in a new AA battery on Thursday, listened a bit that day; also during Friday, in the evening - on a train trip to home city, then a walk through it; and...I forgot to turn the thing off, when putting it into a wardrobe together with my coat. A trip back was Tuesday noon; it was still working. In fact, the battery was good for normal listening, around two hours each day, almost till the end of that week.

I really miss that on the current crop of "wearable" electronics.

The Walkman was the end of the music industry (5, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997118)

I remember making copies for friends and receiving them as well.
Once it was possible, the music industry was not able to sell any more music. Artists went to get real jobs and that is why all music you hear is only done by amateurs.
The best you can compare is what VHS did to the film industry. A few obscure independent movie makers is all that you have left.

And all this because of piracy. Right?

Re:The Walkman was the end of the music industry (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997164)

And all this because of piracy. Right?

Wrong. It was because of all the copyright infringements. Nothing to do with the armed gangs of pirates raiding ships at sea.

Re:The Walkman was the end of the music industry (1)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997256)

Once it was possible, the music industry was not able to sell any more music. Artists went to get real jobs and that is why all music you hear is only done by amateurs. The best you can compare is what VHS did to the film industry. A few obscure independent movie makers is all that you have left.

Ummm....huh? Where the hell are you getting your facts from? The music industry is dead? Only indie films being made? Wow! Someone needs to goto IMDb and look around for a few minutes.

Sheesh!

Re:The Walkman was the end of the music industry (4, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997264)

Trading tapes with a few friends is a little different than trading tapes with a thousands of people.

Re:The Walkman was the end of the music industry (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997620)

And yet Sweden, the country which gave us The Pirate Bay, is the only place in the world with sustained physical sales.

But execs don't want to hear that much, preferring to think in the categories of their "superstars" (while in Sweden it is simply a case of many great indy acts)

Re:The Walkman was the end of the music industry (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997320)

and before 'downloading' there were live shows, tapers (people who were allowed or not) and 'tape trees' where the parent or seeder gets 3 or more child nodes to send blanks and postage (B+P) 'up' and the parent copies the tape 3 times and mails it down. alternately, content is sent up in one cassette (or DAT, or later cd-r) and then content from the tree (what everyone wants for this particular trade, this show or whatever) is copied down to new tapes and exchanged downward to the child nodes.

customarily, it has been a content-for-content (no money changes hands) trade or content for B+P (still no money, really).

this really annoyed the music co's.

and we enjoyed annoying them, but that wasn't our main goal, here. sharing the music was our goal.

Re:The Walkman was the end of the music industry (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997482)

Then you will recognize my username.

Re:The Walkman was the end of the music industry (1)

coldmist (154493) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997330)

Let's try that again, to make a point:

Once those player pianos were possible, the music industry was not able to sell any more tickets to performances. Artists went to get real jobs and that is why all music you hear is only done by amateurs.

Same sea change. Music is still being done by professionals.

As much as technology changes, the *situation* is still the same. Human behavior is the same. Supply/demand curve stuff. If they want to overcharge for it, I won't pay *their* price, and can either not get it or get a copy of varying quality from someone else. It's been that way for thousands of years. The walkman didn't change it in any way.

Now, Napster was the start of something that I don't think we had a precedent for. (Maybe the jump from no recording devices to the first ones?) Unlinking the content from any physical limitations (ie unlimited copies with very little storage/copying overhead) was an order of magnitude jump in this area. (Think the first replicator from Star Trek fame for physical stuff.)

These kinds of things happen once in a 100-1000 years. The walkman was just the next step in a walk across the country.

Re:The Walkman was the end of the music industry (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997486)

So back in the days of cassettes and VHS, everyone could share their entire music / video collection with anyone else in the world, more or less instantly, and there was no degradation in quality?

Re:The Walkman was the end of the music industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997562)

Calm down and read this [wikipedia.org]

How can Steve Jobs gets away with this?!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997142)

This is just another example of how Apple is locking down consumer electronics. There are people still using Walkmans but now Steve Jobs is forcing everyone to buy new iPods and use DRM/iTunes instead of the open cassette tape standard! Don't let Steve get away with this! Use Android!

Oh wait, this wasn't an Apple story. Just thought I'd throw in my hip anti-Apple opinion to confirm with the other slashdotters without actually reading the article.

The real news... (1)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997272)

The real news here is that it took until 2010 for them to discontinue it. Seriously, who in the world was actually buying a cassette player in the last 10 years?

I'm surprised they held out that long... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997274)

I'm not surprised at the long persistence of tape, in general; but of Sony's persistence in the market.

Even though the cost of a gig of flash and some cheapass SoiC may well have fallen below the cost of a tape transport, that only really helps in an environment where computers with which to load and reload the resultant low-end mp3 player are ubiquitous. Tape, while it imposes higher fixed costs on the player, allows extremely cheaply duplicated cassettes to be sold and swapped(and unlike cheap optical transports, tape is writable).

However, even if there is still a case for tape, it has only applied in some pretty downmarket areas. In the first world, wearing a tape-player in public is practically a diagnostic signal of mental illness, now, that's how downmarket they are. For Sony, a company that prefers higher margin niches, it seems like a very odd place to be. I'll be genuinely suprised when the last cheap-n'-nearly-anonymous Chinese OEM stops making the things; but I would have expected Sony to leave the area some time ago. Perhaps their brand is still worth enough that they figured they could make some money stamping it on devices produced by somebody else, and keeping a few pennies of the premium it commanded over identical goods by lesser names?

Re:I'm surprised they held out that long... (1, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997338)

In the first world, wearing a tape-player in public is practically a diagnostic signal of mental illness, now, that's how downmarket they are.

I'm pretty sure that my DAT Walkman will still play music better than any MP3 player on the market (at least at typical 100-200kbps MP3 bit-rates).

Re:I'm surprised they held out that long... (2, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997494)

I'm pretty sure my Sharp MDS-702 plays better then most MP3 players. Your DAT deck is, of course, lossless, and similarly unappreciated.

Re:I'm surprised they held out that long... (1, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997556)

Given that pretty much any player not sourced from 5 years ago or the bottom end of a flea market(and a few that were) will support one or more of FLAC, Apple Lossless, or WMA Lossless, your parenthetical statement seems like a rather glaring strawman.

There is nothing particularly technologically wrong with DAT, particularly given its origins in a time when tape was pretty much the only economically viable way of storing substantial quantities of data(DV/mini-DV is in a fairly similar boat); but comparing it to the very low end of contemporary audio players is basically meaningless(and doubly dishonest, since DAT based walkman units are markedly less common than conventional audiotape ones, and used pretty much only by the sort of market segment that wouldn't touch a 128kb CBR MP3 with somebody else's ears)

Obviously, lossy compression makes it trivial to make just about any mp3 player sound arbitrarily bad; but lossless compression and large internal memories are ubiquitous features on all but the cheapest modern units, making it pretty easy to get output limited only by the quality of the source material and the listening environment.

That's not news! (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997286)

The news is that they were still making the things for the last 10 years.

Although technically they're still making Walkmans. Just not cassette based versions.

Sonic Stage (1)

GoJays (1793832) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997412)

The walkman may still be relevant in the portable music department if Sony didn't force the ATRAC3 format down it's users throats.

I for one was a big supporter of the Walkman back in my highschool days and went through a couple players just from wear and tear. I skipped over the discman because I like making mix tapes and the discman was bulky and would drain batteries quickly. Once the Net walkman came out, I jumped on that because of it's size and Sony's rep for making quality walkmans. At the time of purchase I had no idea users had to use Sonic Stage to transfer music. Sonic Stage was just about the worst software I have ever used. Users were forced to use this garbage software to copy music to the player and during the process all their music was then converted to ATRAC3. The process was so painful and slow that once you had music on your player, you never wanted to change it just to avoid using Sonic Stage. Needless to say, once that netwalkman died I never replaced it and haven't gone back to Sony since.

Re:Sonic Stage (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997656)

You're behind the times, their flash Walkmans are quite open. Likewise SE phones with music player functionality.

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