Return of the Walkman?

broken walkman

Spotted on Figueroa  street last month: a smashed Sony Walkman (Sport WM-FS397, to be exact).  Here’s an “exploded” view:


The BBC, back in 2010, gave a 13 year-old a Walkman to review. Here’s what the kid said:

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

Another notable feature that the iPod has and the Walkman doesn’t is “shuffle”, where the player selects random tracks to play. Its a function that, on the face of it, the Walkman lacks. But I managed to create an impromptu shuffle feature simply by holding down “rewind” and releasing it randomly – effective, if a little laboured.

Any holdouts amongst you, our dear readers? Some of us still seem to have dial phones, so I thought I’d ask. I gave my portable cassette player up long ago and the household now has no cassette tape capabilities. Kelly can no longer listen to her 80s mix tapes!

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  1. You mean the 80s mix tapes survived the recent purge? 😉
    I gave up my Walkman in the early 2000s (it died), but still have an old plug-in cassette player if I need my fix of Amy Grant singing “Baby Baby”! I am proud to say that my Discman, which I received for Christmas in 1994, still plays CDs, and the speakers I bought at that time to plug into the Discman work like a charm.

    • Alas, the 80’s mixed tapes did not survive the purge. I felt terrible putting them in the garbage! Many were gifts from friends, but even back in the day they’d become a little worn out. We don’t have a Discman, but at least the car has a cd player, so we can review all our 90’s cds at leisure.

    • Did you write out lists of songs on mix tapes? Even if the tapes are gone the songs could still be around, including the memories.

  2. I could never afford CDs, so most of my music is still on tape. I even have a yellow-but-not-a-walkman portable to play them on. Though I haven’t played it in a while-maybe I’d better give it a spin.

    And I have a handed down discman now! WhoooHooo!

  3. The walkman went to the scrap heap long, long ago. However, my home system is comprised of a Pioneer receiver (with real wood grain!), a Hitachi turntable, a Sanyo dual cassette deck, and two Pioneer speakers almost too heavy to lift (more wood grain!), all purchased in 1978 and still capable of blowing the windows out. Listening to music on a phone may be convenient, but something about it just isn’t right. Analog rocks!

  4. My husband and I maintain our tape collection, including many a mix made for each other through the years. We both have Walkmans, tape decks alongside the record player, and a tape player/radio that I use in my truck to listen to tunes. We have vinyl, CD and digital means too, it’s just that Tapes Rule. I see they are making a comeback as far as an image of a cassette tape being cool to put on a tshirt or notebook, but as of yet, I havnt seen any other Walkmans at the gym :).

  5. I have a Toyo stereo from the early 70’s with a working 8 track player but no 8 tracks! 🙁

  6. I had a tiny radio in the 50s, husband got a portable radio for our music in the 70s and gave it to me for my birthday. Then, divorced, I got a boom box when that radio died. In 2000, my daughter said I should be dragged into the new millennium. So, she sent me a boom box with CD capability, but I had no CDs

    I sold the old boom box. Since I did not know it could also record while a tape was being played, I sold it too cheap. The woman who bought it could not believe I was selling it for $10. My ignorance of the device did not matter since I was never going to sing and record it. She said she had been looking for that model for years. It would also play both sides of two tapes, a feature I enjoyed.

    I never had a Walkman and really did not want one. I do have a karaoke machine I got from Freecycle that I intend to use outdoors when I resume entertaining. We won’t be singing, just using the machine for its speakers.

  7. The husband and I are purchasing a new vehicle (with “new” meaning it was actually made in this century) and I am HEARTBROKEN that it does not have a cassette player. I am deeply, deeply in love with my collection of “Car Cassettes.” I do not know how I am going to get through this transition. {sob}

  8. I have a lovely dusky pink one that is used regularly, not for tapes but the radio function. I was regularly downloading podcasts -root simple included- to listen to when I was gardening, but alas, that modern piece of technology has died, so now rely on my walkman for ‘in garden’ entertainment.

  9. I was digging through our junk drawers and closets recently looking for another archaeological treasure- a portable radio (no tape deck required). I had found directions online for making a metal detector from a radio and a handheld calculator (many, many of which I did find!). I seem to have inadvertently purged our once-copious supply. Remember when every time you made a big purchase or joined an organization, they gave you a little radio as a premium? Alas, I will have to scrounge the neighbors’ junk drawers to complete the metal detector project with the kids. No doubt I could buy a cheap radio on Amazon, but I can’t bring myself to do it.
    –Heather in CA

  10. If we all go back to magnetic media are you going to mail us tapes of your podcasts?

    I’m a big fan of the old ipod minis. Fairly cheap on ebay, mostly repairable, a clickwheel that I can use with gardening gloves, plays podcasts and doesn’t receive text messages. The perfect blend of old and new. My 9yo daughter calls hers her “retro” ipod.

    • We’ve joked about “going 90s” one week. You would have to mail us a self-addressed stamped envelope. We’d send you a Xeroxed, zine version of the blog and, yes, a cassette tape with the podcast.

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