Carry Your Sounds ♫
The first Sony Walkman, the TPS-L2, goes on sale in Japan. It would go on sale in the US about a year later. By allowing owners to carry their personal music with them, the Walkman and their iconic headphones introduced a revolution in listening habits and popular culture at large.
The prototype was built in 1978 by audio-division engineer Nobutoshi Kihara for Sony co-chairman Akio Morita, who wanted to be able to listen to operas during his frequent trans-Pacific plane trips.
The original Walkman was marketed in 1979 as the Walkman in Japan and, from 1980, the Soundabout in many other countries including the US, Freestyle in Sweden and the Stowaway in the UK. Advertising, despite all the foreign languages, still attracted thousands of buyers in the US specifically. Morita hated the name “Walkman” and asked that it be changed, but relented after being told by junior executives that a promotion campaign had already begun using the brand name and that it would be too expensive to change.
“This is the product that will satisfy those young people who want to listen to music all day. They’ll take it everywhere with them, and they won’t care about record functions. If we put a playback-only headphone stereo like this on the market, it’ll be a hit.” – Akio Morita, February 1979, Sony Headquarters.
Sony invented the compact and extremely lightweight H-AIR MDR3 headphones for their new cassette player. At that time, headphones weighed on average between 300 to 400 grams, the H-AIR headphones weighed just 50 grams with comparable sound quality.
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