More than two decades ago Sony released its first ever portable cassette player which marked the start of listening to audio on the go, but 2003 saw its last cassette-based personal stereo device come off the production line; the Sony WM-GX788.
A slim-looking and functional cassette stereo which featured digital AM/FM tuning, recording capabilities and up to 90 hours extended battery life, WM-GX788 was certainly at the vanguard of portable audio. By this point users were also able to listen to both sides of the tape without having to turn it round manually and the sound could be tailored to each listener’s individual needs with the introduction of Mega Bass technology.
The original Walkman changed listening habits by allowing people to carry their tunes with them and listen to them through lightweight headphones.
Despite competition from the likes of Toshiba and Panasonic in the late 1980s Sony continued to set the standard in portable cassette stereos and launched well over a hundred devices.
After 2000 however, the cassette format was gradually starting to be phased out and when Apple unveiled its iPod in 2001 it signalled the end for Sony’s cassette-based products in the UK. Some countries such as Japan didn’t discontinue the Walkman until 2010 and the manufacturer still makes the Walkman devices in China for the US and other overseas markets.
The cassette player was never going to be able to match the high-end features seen on portable music players headlining the market today, but that said Sony’s influence in creating some of the first most functional and stylish audio devices is still hugely evident.