Sony has ceased production of the cassette tape Walkman in Japan. According to Sony spokeswoman Hiroko Nakamura, “sales will end (in Japan) once the last batch disappears from stores.”
News of the demise of the cassette Walkman is exploding on the Internet, and is even a trending topic on Twitter at the time of this posting.
Fear not, lovers of analog – Sony will still make the cassette Walkman in China, and continue to sell them in the USA, Europe, and even some Asian countries.
The end of cassette Walkman production in Japan is still a defining moment in Sony history, as the device was one of the key products that lead to Sony’s success in the 80’s and beyond. The Walkman helped build a name for Sony outside of Japan and was one of the many products that influenced consumers to trust the brand.
The original Walkman was a tremendous success for Sony, as it was one of the first commonly available products that allowed people to carry their music with them, a revolutionary concept for its time. The device was built in 1978 by audio division engineer Nobutoshi Kihara for Sony co-chairman Akio Morita, who wanted to be able to listen to operas during his frequent transpacific plane trips.
The original Walkman was marketed in 1979 as the Walkman in Japan, the Soundabout in many other countries including the US, Freestyle in Sweden and the Stowaway in the UK. Morita hated the name “Walkman” and asked it to be changed, but relented after being told by junior executives that a promotion campaign had already begun using the ‘Walkman’ name and would be too expensive to change.
Sony has sold 220 million cassette Walkman players globally since the product’s launch in July 1979.