Celebrating Sony Walkman – the original of the species

Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It is 40 years this summer since the Sony Walkman hit the shops and changed how we listened to music forever – or at least until the MP3 player came along and did it all over again.

But the fact that the Walkman has come and gone shouldn’t detract from its place in the evolution of audio – because it took us into a world we could previously only have dreamed of.

Up to then, the height of sophistication was a transistor radio with an earpiece that boasted the sort of sound quality you’d get if you put a tin can or a toilet roll up to your ear.

And still those nights spent trying to make the most of a medium-wave signal to tune into Radio Luxembourg are among the memories of bygone teenage days.

We didn’t miss the delights of stereo because we didn’t know what it was – and we didn’t long to be able to choose the music we wanted to hear (as opposed to whatever the DJ foisted onto us) because we never saw that as a viable option.

Expensive cars came with eight-track cassette players – big tapes the size of a paperback, so big that they sat half-in, half-out of their player.

But then again, the average car didn’t come with even a radio as standard – so the notion of music on the move was the stuff of dreams for most of us.

The Walkman changed all that – giving you a little machine you could clip to your belt, with audio to both ears so that you could hear cassettes of the music you’d bought or taped so diligently from the radio.

The first of them cost $150 – an astonishing amount of money in June 1979 when the average weekly wage in Ireland was the equivalent of €105 and a pint would cost you, in today’s money, 79 cent.

So, we didn’t have the price of a Walkman and we didn’t have a lot of money for buying albums either.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City  and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.