Another quick one before the weekend begins.
A couple sites have linked to this modern, design-based review of the Sony Walkman. It focuses on form rather than function, but is still interesting to read/look at.
Like the iPod, the Walkman isn’t truly the first of its kind. There was a cassette player before it called the Stereobelt. It was big, ugly, expensive and only lived on as a patent. What the Walkman did was make the idea of a portable cassette player into a marketable, attractive consumer product. That’s the genius of Sony.
It’s fun to look back and see how dramatically personal music consumption has changed within our generation’s lives. Through most of our first decade, the only way to listen to music, on your own, around town, was to carry a small transistor radio and listen via a single ear bud. No stereo sound sound for you! And you were limited to whatever stations were within reach of your radio’s antenna.
Then the Walkman came along and offered you freedom. You could throw a cassette in and listen to the songs of your choosing, skipping the ones you didn’t like or listening to your favorites over-and-over. Throw another cassette in your pocket, or a handful into your briefcase/purse/backpack, and you were set for the day.
During the Walkman era, any traveling I did meant I had my knockoff Walkman and headphones in my bag, and a small carrier that held 12 cassettes in their cases. That made those long car trips across Kansas and Missouri, or the occasional flight to California and back, more tolerable.
And then the iPod changed things exponentially. Today you can cart along pretty much every song you own, each instantly accessible, and carry the device into your front pocket. An iPod Nano will even tuck into the coin pocket in your jeans. Or you can stream every song you could ever want to hear, on demand, straight to your phone.
Pretty amazing. And makes you wonder what could possibly be the next step.