Is The Walkman Really Dead Or Not?

Yesterday the Internet seemed to be stepping over itself to break the news that the Sony Walkman — the handheld icon of the mix-tape era — had finally died a quiet death. Only problem is… that’s not exactly true.

Yes, Sony has stopped making and selling the Walkman in Japan. But the company is continuing to produce the portable tape players in China for sale in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

Our older sibling Consumer Reports waxed a little nostalgic when it heard rumors of the Walkman’s demise and posted this PDF of its November 1981 coverage of the Walkman and its early competition.

Sony (mostly) bids adieu to the cassette Walkman [ConsumerReports.org]

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  1. namcam says:

    It is time! These were great back in the day, but who has need for them anymore…

  2. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    It’s amazing how much technology has improved since then. I can remember spending about $150 around 1980 for a portable cassette player. Not even adjusting for inflation, I can get a pretty decent mp3 player today for the same price.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      $150? For about $10 you can get a 1Gb USB stick .mp3 player that is pretty freaking amazing…considering it costs $10.

  3. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    I still remember listening to Phil Collins on the bus to school with my walkman, and kids all around me wanted to listen, too. Sure I “borrowed” it from my dad… but he never has to know!

  4. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    I remember disassembling cassette tapes to splice back together tapes that had broken. I had my little repair kit: teeny screwdriver, scotch tape (gift wrap style), and super glue.

    CDs are not as satisfying in that arena. :/

    • rookie says:

      I never imagined using glue. I always just taped it, and then used an xacto knife to trim the tape. I have several tapes needing repair, it may be time for a new technique. How does the super glue enhance the tape?

      • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

        super glue was for cases that weren’t held together by screws, not for the tape. So if I had to bust the tape case open, super glue allowed me to fuse the edges back together when the tape was spliced. :)

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I remember being on a family roadtrip, playing the role of surly child in the backseat. I had a walkman and would rewind the tape to listen to it again just to avoid conversation. It’s amazing that Sony is only now stopping production on the cassette Walkman.

    How long will it take for Sony to stop production on the CD Walkman? I have yet to see a new car that has replaced the in-dash CD player for an mp3 player (usually an iPod) dock.

    • Kitamura says:

      Does Sony call them CD Walkmen? Most people I talk to refer to the CD version as Diskmen. I guess they’ll keep making them as long as there’s a market for the stuff.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        It was officially the “Discman” but because of how new the technology was, Sony also referred to it as the CD Walkman because the Walkman brand was so popular.

    • freelunch says:

      my wife’s car has a cd player that will play MP3 files off a cd… only time I use my mp3 player is when flying.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      You had rewind?! I only had fast forward, so to listen to the same song again, I would have to flip the tape and fast forward, then flip it back over.

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        I had a few of them that had both FF and REW buttons. There was this one Panasonic model I had that was awesome–super slim, all electric motor controls (i.e. it wasn’t your physically pressing PLAY to lift the tape head/capstan to the tape,) auto-reverse, Dolby B and C noise reduction, digital tuner with 30 presets etc. Until I dropped it and it broke running for a bus. The radio still worked despite the dropping. But really, what good was that?

  6. SecretAgentWoman says:

    The guy on the right looks waaaaay too happy to be in his little short shorts. :)

  7. ArcanaJ says:

    During my 20s, my Walkman and mirrored sunglasses were my official, “Do Not Talk To Me” uniform for when I had to take mass transit. Oh, the mix tapes I used to make…

  8. econobiker says:

    I read or heard somewhere that cassette tapes and players were still selling for prison use since CDs were too easy to break in order to convert them into shanks…

  9. dreamfish says:

    Surely the walkman is dead simply by virtue of it being near impossible to actually buy cassette tapes anymore, apart from second hand ones and maybe blank tapes.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      actually i was curious about that just now, this page reminded me that my car has a cassette player as well as a CD player and i was wondering if i’d ever get to use it for anything other than an mp3 adapter. turns out there’s a whole lot of places to get vintage ones, some small bands are recording to them again and there’s a whole bunch of options out there.
      how unexpected

      • Michaela says:

        Your car has a cassette player?!

        I have all these cassettes that my parents gave me, and yet nowhere to play them. I have never had a car with a cassette played (even my first car, a ’96 neon had an updated stereo system).

  10. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I have one somewhere. It still works and I still have some tapes!

  11. PanCake BuTT says:

    Believe it or not, within the last 3 months or so, I’ve witness individuals on the subway, whip out their Walkman, and switch over to the other side of the cassette. There will also be a small collections of cassettes in their bag as well. I kinda love it!, more so than someone flashing their iPlop!

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      And did these hipsters have Polaroid cameras on them so they could take ironic photos of ironic situations?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I was going to say…they’re hipsters. That’s the only reason. It’s not that they prefer the technology, it’s that it’s suddenly cool and hip to use outdated technology and call it “ironic” …like using the old timey phone ring as your iPhone ringtone. Hipsters love that kind of stuff.

        • Rachacha says:

          I am all for being a hipster, but the problem is, my old Victrola is hard to carry around on the subway, especially when I also have my Osborne 1 laptop with me.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            my dad used to have some osbornes. he picked them up when his office upgraded. they were for the sales force, and since he worked at a technology company, it made the salesmen look better when they showed up with a portable computer.
            sooooo heavy though.
            actually i do own a portable record player but it’d be crap on a subway. or in a car. got to be perfectly level. would be funny sometime to whip it out and plug in headphones and pretend i’m listening though. hehe

      • Bativac says:

        That’s about right…. although I still have a few tapes of stuff I just can’t find anywhere else.

        I probably shouldn’t admit this but one of those tapes is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Coming Out Of Their Shells World Tour soundtrack. It came from Pizza Hut. If I could find it on CD, I’d upgrade.

        I mean, I don’t listen to it or anything…

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          I had that! It was awesome.

          You should rip it to CD. It’s not too difficult, and then you can save it for posterity.

  12. MoreThanWYSIWYG says:

    Why do we still keep that terrible tape format around? My dad just bought a 2011 honda civic with a TAPE DECK!!!!

  13. foofish says:

    Long live the cassette. There are certain albums that I killed multiple copies of from over-listening, and to this day, I’d rather hear them on cassette than mp3, vinyl, or CD. It’s the ambiance – The tape hiss, the muffled sounds, the exact seconds of pause between songs.. It’s like a slice of 10th grade that cannot be replicated in any way.

    Thank god for yard sales :)

  14. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    I vividly remember my first Walkman, and carrying it as I ran, right after they came out when I was in my very early 20s. Even though we didn’t have a lot of extra money, this was something that hubby and I thought was worthwhile. I enjoyed running much more once I had music to listen to as I ran.

    I few years ago I finally convinced hubby that we could safely throw away the hundrends of cassette tapes we had saved all those years since we got our first running-capable CD player, much less since I got an Ipod.

    • econobiker says:

      Should have recorded the album names and artists so you could legally have digital ~copies~ to back up the tapes…

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      I rebelled by buying a “walkman” made by KOSS. It was white. My brother thought that was the dumbest thing I ever did, but I still have it and it still works, it’s pretty awesome. I actually used it durring the last hurricane to listen to the radio. I love it as a radio more than anything because it has a digital tuner selector! WOO! How high-tech!

      I may not have to use it as a radio anymore though, because my new Android phone has a radio built into it. Ahh, technology.

  15. AllanG54 says:

    I have over 700 albums on cassette but because my last 3 cars came with CD players I’ve had to re-record all those albums on CD which meant I had to also buy a CD burner. I’ve only done about 200 so far. Still another 500 or so to go. I have a CD walkman but not a cassette one.

  16. CBenji says:

    It is so interesting how we have evolved so. I think about owning a walkman, and later a disc player, and then later finally deciding to own an Ipod. I can still remember talking it over with a guy from the IT department. I remember he was so against it to and wanted me to get whatever Dell was selling at the time. I can’t even remember what it was. I am so glad I didn’t listen to him. I do have mixed feelings on tapes though, but I don’t think I want to go back to them. I enjoy my Ipod, Bose speakers and all.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Heck, even my standalone iPod is relatively obsolete now that I have an iPhone. I haven’t touched my standalone iPod in more than a year.

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      I had a thing in the middle that was called the Rio-Volt. It was a cd based MP3 player. I still have it, but something on it broke and Rio forsook me by discontinuing support for that model about 6 months after I bought it. They still supported the cheaper model, but not the one I bought. So much for having saved all of my Christmas and birthday money that year to buy it. >: /

      Later on, that situation lead me to decide to purchase an Apple iPod, because they support their products for a really long time.. You can even find accessories online for the iPod Mini if you look for them.

  17. Mcshonky says:

    cassette?
    what named so?

    LONG LIVE TYT!!

  18. blivet says:

    I frequently show my age by inadvertently saying “Walkman” when I mean “iPod”.

  19. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    Nooooo!

    But how will us Gen-X kids mount a totally believable and probable rescue of our Air Force fathers, who were shot down over the Mediterranean and are now awaiting execution in some non-descript Middle Eastern country, without the proper way to play our tunes in the cockpit?

  20. gman863 says:

    OK People. I too owned a cassette Walkman.

    My first car was a hand me down Dodge Dart.

    I don’t spend time being nostalgic about either.