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Sony (mostly) bids adieu to the cassette Walkman

Consumer Reports News: October 25, 2010 04:30 PM

Digging the Walkman, eighties-style
Photo: Consumer Reports

After a 30-year run, consumer electronics giant Sony has finally retired the iconic cassette Walkman—the first inexpensive "walkaround" music player. Your response to this news may be, "Sony was still making the Walkman?" (Well, that was my response.) Yes indeed; according to Mashable, however, the final batch of Walkmans was shipped to Japanese stores in April.

But there's good news for those nostalgic souls who have clung to cassettes despite the shift to CDs and then the advent of the iPod. AP later reported that a Sony spokesperson said the company will continue to manufacture the Walkman in China, for users in the U.S., Europe, and parts of Asia. So it seems reports of the death of the Walkman are premature after all; you'll still be able to get your hands on a new unit going forward.

Waxing nostalgic about this landmark device, we took a look back at Consumer Reports' first review of the Sony Walkman, along with portable music players from Sears, General Electric, and Sanyo, among others. Our lead paragraph heralded the advent of the "tuned-in, tuned-out" person with an "enigmatic smile and faraway look" and an "unnaturally loud, though not unfriendly, voice." How prophetic that turned out to be!

Want to take a sentimental journey to the early 80s? Here's a PDF of the full story from our November 1981, issue, "Walkaround tape players." If you'd rather stay in this century, though, check out our Consumer Reports Buying Guide for MP3 players.

Did you have a Walkman back in the day? How much did you love it (or not)? Let us know below.

—Carol Mangis

Carol Mangis

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