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07/05/14

Walking small: The Walkman won't be making a comeback but it had a wonderful ride

Do you know anyone who still uses a Walkman?
Chances are the answer to that question is easy and is a resounding "no." Aside from perhaps a parent or grandparent over the age of 50, the Walkman was retired when cassettes and the CD gave way to more modern ways of enjoying music. And even then, the Walkman is getting a run for its money from the iPod even with the older generation.
The Walkman made its official debut 35 years ago in July, 1979, and revolutionized the way the masses listen to their favorite music. For the first time, the cassette tapes that once were only confined to your boom boxes or at home stereos suddenly became portable, and the rest is history.
Thirty five years later, the Walkman is prehistoric technology, along with those cassette tapes. They've been replaced by digital music that can be downloaded, thus making the need for tangible cassettes, or even compact discs, obsolete. No longer are your CD racks (do people still by these for their homes and offices?) tied up with hundreds of plastic cases but rather the minimalists of the world are rejoicing at the idea that their shelves are totally emptied.
Apple made beautiful music with its iPod creation, but before Steve Jobs and company came up with this ingenious gadget, the Walkman was definitely the only way to go.

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You can sort of call the Walkman the forefather of taking music with you wherever you go. Thinking of the Walkman conjures up good and bad memories for those who used them. Obviously, the idea that your cassette tapes and CDs could be enjoyed anywhere is one of the glaring goods in the discussion. Anyone who tried to use the CD version of the Walkman knows how annoying the skipping was, especially while running or exercising. As far as the cassettes, we've all had that moment where the cassette gets stuck and our hands are eventually completely wrapped in tape.
And don't even get started about the Walkman as far as using it in the car? The Walkman had plenty of annoying accessories with it, none more taxing than the CD Walkman and that cassette tape attachment that you used to hear music playing from the Walkman through the car speakers. The wires were everywhere and trying to find a way to keep the Walkman from skipping every time you hit a pot hole drove you crazy.
But even in the midst of our frustration with the Walkman, you couldn't help but proudly tote it around in the hopes that anyone who saw you with it were at least a bit jealous of you. At the time, not everyone had one like iPods with consumers today. So if you had a Walkman, you were more than just a few steps ahead of everyone else.
No one is expecting or holding their breath in the hopes that the Walkman will be making a comeback any time soon, but it's important to note just how important this device was for its time and how the idea behind it spawned the idea of portable music and gave way to what Apple is doing today.

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