Friday, July 1, 2011

Ever Have One Of These...?

Time sure seems to fly by!

I can remember when these things first hit the market, and it just seems to me that it wasn't long before nearly everybody had one. I didn't know that it was that long ago, but the older I get the faster time goes by!

The first Sony Walkman goes on sale

The transistor radio was a technological marvel that put music literally into consumers' hands in the mid-1950s. It was cheap, it was reliable and it was portable, but it could never even approximate the sound quality of a record being played on a home stereo. It was, however, the only technology available to on-the-go music lovers until the Sony Corporation sparked a revolution in personal electronics with the introduction of the first personal stereo cassette player. A device as astonishing on first encounter as the cellular phone or digital camera would later be, the Sony Walkman went on sale for the very first time on July 1, 1979.

The Sony Walkman didn't represent a breakthrough in technology so much as it did a breakthrough in imagination. Every element of the Walkman was already in production or testing as part of some other device when Sony's legendary chairman, Masaru Ibuka, made a special request in early 1979. Ibuka was a music lover who traveled frequently, and he was already in the habit of carrying one of his company's "portable" stereo tape recorders with him on international flights. But the Sony TC-D5 was a heavy device that was in no way portable by modern standards, so Ibuka asked his then-deputy Norio Ohga if he could cobble together something better. Working with the company's existing Pressman product—a portable, monaural tape recorder that was popular with journalists—Ohga had a playback-only stereo device rigged up in time for Ibuka's next trans-Pacific flight.

Even though this proto-Walkman required large, earmuff-like headphones and custom-made batteries (which, of course, ran out on Ibuka midway through his flight), it impressed the Sony chairman tremendously with its sound quality and portability. Many objections were raised internally when Ibuka began his push to create a marketable version of the device, the biggest of which was conceptual: Would anyone actually buy a cassette device that was not for recording but only for playback? Ibuka's simple response—"Don't you think a stereo cassette player that you can listen to while walking around is a good idea?"—proved to be one of the great understatements in business history.

After a breakneck development phase of only four months, Sony engineers had a reliable product ready for market at 30,000 Yen (approximately US$150 in 1979 dollars) and available before the start of summer vacation for Japanese students—both critical targets established at the outset of development. The initial production run of 30,000 units looked to be too ambitious after one month of lackluster sales (only 3,000 were sold in July 1979). But after an innovative consumer-marketing campaign in which Sony representatives simply approached pedestrians on the streets of Tokyo and gave them a chance to listen to the Walkman, the product took off, selling out available stocks before the end of August and signaling the beginning of one of Sony's greatest success stories.

Now it seems like everyday there is a new gadget on the market, and many of them have become such a part of our everyday life, we can't imagine a day without having them with us.

I do wonder sometimes if it might not be a good idea to try and go a day or two without our gadgets, if for no other reason than to break our dependance on them. I just imagine some of us would do better than others in this situation. One thing to remember though, there may come a day when none of our favorite "toys" suddenly don't work!

Poses some interesting questions, doesn't it? I'm thinking a few dry runs, "gadget free", might not be a bad idea!

Why don't we get some fresh coffee and sit outside? We could discuss how quickly time is passing!


Anonymous said...

Actually, I think I have two, if one of my kids didn't break one. Bought a pair of them at the San Marcos Sony outlets years ago, they were selling them for cheap when the Discman was just being introduced. Brand new packaged models for $15 apiece, I think they were.

I think for entertainment after SHTF, cassette players have something going for them. Tapes are handy for recording all kinds of information as well as music. Not as sensitive as CD players if power gets low either.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane HermitJim - you have a great weekend. We're enjoying some of that rain left from TS Arlene down here, we sure do need the rain. Might spoil a few 4th of July parades but we need the rain worse.

Ben in Texas said...

Never had an actual Walkman, but still have two cassette players like that. One had AM&FM radio as well. They still work, IF I had headphones for them. But got rid of all my cassettes. I refuse to buy into the new digital stuff. Besides which I found out I can't mow the yard with the music blaring like I used too.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Didn't have one of those, but did have one of the first transister radios. At the time we thought that they were really small and compact, but were large by today's standards. Got my first one in 1959.

Momlady said...

Will be going without after tomorrow for a few days. Going to visit friends in TN who don't have much in the way of the lastest gadgets. The only thing I'll have is my basic cell phone. Funny, I always come back from those visits much relaxed.

linda m said...

I still have an old cassette player;my husband had a Walkman. I think people have become way to dependent on all the new "gadgets". Oh what will happen to all the people when their gadgets don't work; horror of all horrors lol.

Anonymous said...

Nevers!!!!!! I heart my iPhone! LOL said...

I never had one of the gadgets pictured, either. As you of all people know, I have a hard enough time with my computer.
I was discussing "prizes" with my Bible class students and they suggested I give an IPOD something-or-other. They also informed me it would only run about $500.
How would you like to be without your 'puter for a few days?
Have a great 4th. Love ya and hope to see you in August.

MyBulletinBoard said...

Hey, Jim! I have a few of those Walkman-style cassette players around here still. It's easier to change tapes than CD's when I'm walking with them. Just this past weekend a precious couple brought me a tape of an old musical we all loved thirty years ago, so I'm good to go. ~Liz

JoJo said...

I had one of those but it was way later than the late 70s it was probably in the early 90s. I was to busy raising kids and couldn't affore what was needed back then. My sister still uses the cassette player and last week she thought it broke and was very upset. (she isn't very good with gadgets at all)she finally realized it needed 2 batterys not 1.
Love to sit on the patio and have a cup.

HermitJim said...

Hey Anon 6:42...
It's amazing what you can find om clearance at some of the retail centers!

There may come a day when some of those will come in handy!

Man, I'm glad you are getting some of the rain from the storm! Nice to be on the outer edges instead of the main path, right?

Have a safe weekend and thanks for coming by today!

Hey Ben...
I always end up with more headsets than I know what to do with! I think some of them go to the computer and the others...who knows?

Amazing how our likes and wants change as we get older! I seem to enjoy the quiet a lot more than I used to!

Hey, buddy! Stay safe this weekend and thanks for coming by today!

Hey DD...
No telling how many 9 volt batteries I used up with my transistor radio! Certainly never went too many places without it!

Hard to believe that we didn't even have FM back then, only AM and even that was limited to a lot less stations than now!

Lots of "improvements" since then! Wow...I'm starting to feel really old!

Thanks for dropping in, buddy!

HermitJim said...

Hey Momlady...
Isn't it amazing what a few days apart from the gadgets (and outside influences) can have on us?

I do hope you have a great time in Tennessee! Never been there, but I did look into buying some land there once!

Be safe, and get some quiet time in! Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Linda...
Sometimes the old things can be a when the power goes off!

Right you are about our dependency on our gadgets! Gets worse every day!

Take care this weekend and thanks for coming by this morning!

Hey Namenlos...
I don't even have or use a cell phone! About the only gadget I have is a watch I just bought.

I quit wearing a watch when I retired, but got one to use "just in case" I might need a trade item!

Thanks for your visit today!

Hey Sis...
Seems like I have so many gadgets put away that I used to think were important! Funny how our thinking changes, isn't it?

Now most of my treasures are "beans, bullets, and bandaids!"

At least I won't go hungry in the quiet!

Looking forward to your next visit! Might want to make it soon!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey LizBeth...
A gift of music is always nice! Something that just keeps on giving!

I really appreciate you coming by today!

Hey JoJo...
Finally got to share some of your vast knowledge with batteries with your Sis!

One thing raising kids will teach you is how to change batteries! Especially around Christmas!

Thanks, sweetie, for the visit today!

TROUBLEnTX said...

Youngest son had one, but we gave him one of the brand new handheld Mattel football games about 79, with all the sounds. Remember standing in line to go into a movie one time, in Austin, and everybody looking to see what in the world they were hearing,. lolol Played "charge" every touchdown.

HermitJim said...

Hey Trouble...
Times have certainly improved the electronic toys and playthings!

Now we even have the 3D things to carry glasses needed! Who would have ever thought that?

Man, I'm getting way too old! But it's better than the alternative, I reckon!

Thanks for coming over this morning!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dizzy Dick, my aunt had a small transistor radio that fit the description. About 6" long, 4" tall and 1" thk, heavier than sin. Man, that thing could belt out that song 'Downtown', shrill treble would knock bees out of air at a 100 feet, lol. Those things were pretty bulletproof too, from what I remember.

Mayberry said...

One of those? HA! I had an 8 track! Yes, "gizmo free" days are good. Today was awesome, spent most of it wading through the bays in search of sea critters, and a good portion of that was out of cellphone range. No bars is a beautiful thing!

Marjie said...

I had the cute little round transistor radio on a chain around 1974. Some of my friends had the one that was a circle that you could open up and close around your wrist. Things were so much simpler then. Sony dreamed up some great stuff.

HermitJim said...

Hey Anon 12:13...
Sounds like it was pretty powerful! Funny how we can remember certain songs we heard on the radio back then.

Thanks a lot for coming by today!

Hey Craig...
8 track? Man, that's a whole other post! Sure had my share of those!

Glad you had a good day out of bars on the phone! Sometimes a little peace and quiet is good for the soul!

Thanks, my friend, for coming by!

Hey Marjie...
Those images and memories really stay with us don't they?

Sure was a lot simpler back then! We were happy with so much less!

Thanks for coming by today!

Ricky said...

Hi came over from a link on dizzys site. Its funny how you said you could wake up and it wouldnt work well I Got a SONY Watchman the first good portable batter operated tv it was great to watch sports on at work and then tv goes digital and poof my watchman is now a piece of history..

HermitJim said...

Hey Ricky...
Things go out of date so fast any more, it's hard to keep up with it!

Almost makes you afraid to buy anything new!

I really appreciate you coming by today!