Generation Z may no longer know Walkman. They might be more familiar with digital music players. However, for generations before them, the Walkman is a legend. He was so admired in his day.
The late Steve Jobs was one of those who admired the piranto. Is John Sculley, Apple’s Chief Executive Officer who tells the admiration of Jobs to Walkman. The former President of Pepsi in his conversation with Leander Kahney, a journalist from the Cult of Mac, said that he and Steve Jobs, quite often met Akio Morita, Sony’s co-founder. During one of his visits, Akio gave Sculley and Jobs a souvenir. Still, each Apple executive gets a Walkman, a 14 ounce blue and silver cassette player.
“Jobs and I have never seen such a product before,” Sculley recalled the incident. “And indeed there is no such product. Jobs was fascinated by the object. ”
“Jobs took, looking at each part, they wondered how the compatibility and completion of the product was built,” said Sculley describing how impressed Jobs was at Walkman.
Masaru Ibuka, Sony’s co-founder, often travels in business. As a connoisseur of music, he often brings TC-D5, a tape recorder and cassette player made by Sony which was sold to the market in 1978. In general, TC-D5 is made by Sony for professionals, especially journalists or a secretary who need to record business talks. For the layman, TC-D5 is like an ordinary audio device, mainly because of its size which is quite large.
Because it’s too big, Masaru isn’t comfortable with the device. He then asked Norio Ohga, his subordinate at Sony, to create a portable version of the TC-D5, by disarming the recording function on the TC-D5.
Then, the creation process at Masaru’s request was carried out. Nobutoshi Kihara, who designed the Walkman shape, said that he and his team “drew the Walkman design on paper and closed his eyes to imagine what the Walkman looked like.”
On July 1, 1979, exactly today 39 years ago, or almost a year after Sony released the TC-D5, Masaru’s request was fulfilled. At that time, Sony released TPS-L2, a portable cassette player, having two 3.5 mm jack holes to connect it to headphones / earphones. In general, the box-shaped object is called “Walkman,” but in some areas, such as the United States, it is named “Sound-About.”
Daniel Rook, in his writing in The Sidney Morning Herald, said that “Walkman” was partly inspired by “Pressman,” a Sony-made recorder made for journalists, and Superman, fictional fiction characters Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster who were on the rise.
Masaru, who then reported to Akio Morita, asked his boss to try Walkman. He then said: “A cassette player that can be used while walking is not a good idea, boss?”
TC-D5 aka best-selling Walkman. A total of 30 thousand Walkmans were sold in the two months since launch. In 10 years, 50 million Walkmans were sold. Until the end of 2010, 385 million Walkmans were sold worldwide.
Meaghan Haire, in his Time article mentions that technically, Walkman is not a big technological leap. Philips, a Dutch company, in 1963 had created a similar product. Then, Andreas Pavel, sparked an idea similar to the Walkman in 1977 by patenting the “stereo belt”.
Sony, said Haire, succeeded in “transforming existing technology into the best form, reducing the size and presenting it to the market.” Walkman, continued Haire, “successfully opened new markets.”
After TC-D5, Sony released new versions of Walkman: TCD-D3 (Walkman that uses Digital Audio Tape) in 1987, Sports WM-B52 (Waklman with a sports theme, nicknamed “Yellow Monster) in 1988, MZ-1 (Walkman which using MiniDisc) in 1992, D-E01 (Walkman that uses Compact Disc) in 1884, and NW-MS70D (Walkman that uses flash memory) in 2000.
In 1986, the word “Walkman” entered the Oxford English Dictionary. Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow in her book “Personal Stereo” implies that Walkman has become a generic word: portable cassette player with headphones.
Besides being a generic word, Tuhus-Dubrow also called Walkman a controversy in the community because it makes people become preoccupied with the surrounding environment. Tuhus-Dubrow, who cited one of the articles when Walkman appeared, said that “the person who uses Walkman is someone whose moral side is absent.”
In 1985, when the film Back to the Future was released to the market, Walkman called Tuhus-Dubrow became a symbol of “disobedience”. At that time, a character named Marty McFly, wearing a Walkman while skateboarding implies: young people who are different from the general public.
Eroded by iPod and Spotify
The success of Walkman spread to other companies, especially those that sell almost the same product. For example Saehan Information System, a South Korean technology company. In 1998, the company released MPMan, which sold 50,000 units at the end of the launch year.
On October 21, 2001, came the iPod. “Copies” are made more perfect than the original Walkman. With prices starting at $ 399, 5GB of storage capacity, the iPod can accommodate up to 1,000 songs, nullifying various types of tapes, which Walkman requires. April 2003, Apple perfects the iPod with the release of the iTunes Music Store. For only $ .99, people can buy songs legally, not per album, easily. No need to come to the record store, or wait for the tapes to arrive if you buy them online. iTunes is revolutionizing how people buy songs.
From 2006 to 2014, as quoted by Statista, Apple sold 368.85 million iPod units worldwide. He became a real competitor of Walkman who sold 385 million units during his 10 years of existence.
Because the iPod is “sold” in the same package as iTunes, in addition to profits from iPod sellers, Apple also benefits from selling songs from iTunes. In 2017, Apple reportedly earned $ 8.7 billion in revenue from iTunes. A source of income that Sony does not have even though they have a Walkman.
After the iPod, the world is now faced with a new system of listening to music. Spotify, the music application created by Daniel Ek is one of them. The application, according to Ek as “offering music to parties”, is changing how people hear music. For a fee of $ 10, the public can enjoy any song, from any album, from all over the world. Without barriers such as what happens to the world of cassettes or iTunes, which requires the listener to buy an entire album or a song.
Spotify is also adaptive on all devices. Both smartphones, desktops, and the web, Spotify can be paired.
As of January 2018, there are 70 million Spotify paid customers. The Recording Industry Association of America, noted that 51.4 percent of the music industry’s revenue came from users of paid streaming music applications such as Spotify.
iPod and subsequently Spotify, successfully eliminated the Walkman.