THE Walkman changed the way people listened to music, especially on the go. Introduced by Sony in 1979, the portable cassette-tape player is finally being discontinued in the Japanese market. The device will remain in production in China and sold in some other places, although Sony will not say how many it still sells or why it bothers to make Walkmans at all in the age of the iPod and smartphone.Whoever buys them, the numbers are unlikely to add much to the more than 220m Walkman cassette-players already sold.
Yet this pioneering product was almost never made in the first place. Sony’s co-founder, Akio Morita, had to battle with his own engineers and executives who argued that a tape-player without a recording function would never work. “Everybody gave me a hard time,” Morita wrote in his memoirs in 1986. In the end, though, the boss had his way.