The Walkman was the epitome of cool in the 80’s and 90’s. You now had the freedom to control the soundtrack to your life instead of the inconsistent radio doing it for you. The mix tapes were out in full force!
The Walkman was created back in 1979 when the co-founder of Sony, Masaru Ibuka, was getting tired of lugging his cereal box sized tape recorder around with him when he wanted to listen to music. He put the boys at Sony to work on developing a smaller version that was playback only, and, voila. The Walkman was born. The first edition sold for $150, adjusted for inflation, that would sell for $489 today! Sony expected to sell a few thousand of them in the first month but ended up selling over 50,000 after just 60 days. It turned out that people really enjoyed listening to their music. Or, maybe this was the first invention that gave you a wonderful excuse to ignore a person.
The Walkman had an enormous cultural impact. While it seems primitive today, taking your music with you anywhere you went was a major game changer. In 1983, cassette tapes outsold vinyl for the first time, and, within the span of a decade (between 87-97), the number of people that walked for exercise increased by 30%, solely based on the fact that they could listen to music while doing so.
Wanting to have more songs with you meant you had to carry around more cassette tapes, so you had to be very choosy when deciding what was going to make the final cut. The lucky children of today will never know the painstaking hardship of waiting all day beside your dual-cassette tape deck, waiting for the radio to play that one hit song that would make your "ultimate mixtape" complete. Finally it was about to be played, you ran from the bathroom tripping over the dog and your sisters Barbie collection on your way there, but you made it and your mix was ready. You listened back with pride and contentment knowing that you've sculpted a masterpiece. You were a musical architect with tastes that no composer or prodigy could dare question or contend. You also ignored that you missed the first 5 seconds and had the radio DJ talking over the intro, but it didn't matter. You finally had Ghetto Superstar by Ol' Dirty Bastard, Pras & Mya on cassette. Life was complete. Life was simple.