Sony’s cassette tape Walkman came to life in many shapes and forms through the years. Here are a few of the great, the important and sometimes plain weird Walkman models.
The original TPS-L2 Walkman went on sale 30 years ago today, July 1st 1979, in Japan. It played stereo and had dual mini headphone jacks for sharing audio with a friend. There was a mic, but it was not used for recording, but to output your voice to your buddy’s headset so he could hear you over the music. The press received it in a lukewarm fashion, but the device took off thanks to celebrity product placement.
The 1981 WM-2 is the first attempt at making a Walkman so small, its only slightly bigger than the tape.
The first Sony Sport walkman was quite waterproof, with jack plug and gaskets around the buttons and tape hold. From 1984. They offered special edition models for locations like Hawaii and Okinana Beach.
The WM-F2 came out in 1982 and was the first Walkman to include both playback, recording and an FM tuner.
The WM-DD was the first personal model to move from a belt driven motor to a ‘disc drive’ reducing wow and flutter and greatly improving the quality of sound reproduction. It also had a metal case.
The WM-F107 was solar charged, but would not support playback as the power to run the tape was more demand than the now ancient back mounted panel could keep up with. It handled FM fine, however, off the stream of electrons. 1987.
The WM-10 expanded on the tiny WM-2’s small form factor, and is considered by the experts at Walkman Central to remain a fine example of reduction engineering. For example: the single AA battery was not actually powerful enough to turn the motors, so they used a step up converter to power the tape drive. 1983.
The 1983 Walkman Music Shuttle was a Walkman that docked into a car stereo. Wow that guy is super stoked to be listening to the same song he was just driving to!
1985: The WM-W800 is a Walkman with TWO tape decks. One for playback, one for recording, which made dubbing tapes ridiculously easy. More photos at Walkman Central.
The WM-3000 from 1990 is one of the earliest My First Sony products designed for kids. They took a basic walkman, and made sure the edges weren’t sharp, the batteries couldn’t be easily popped out of the back and swallowed and the volume limiter ensured baby eardrums didn’t pop under duress of mother goose tapes.
The WM-GX202 is one of the last tape playing Walkmen and guess what? They’re still being sold in Japan in 2009! The product’s focus is not on music, but on language learning tapes.