Walkman - Thursday, October 15, 2015

It's funny how things happen sometimes.  A couple weeks ago, we devoted the blog to telling the story of audio storage technology.  From wax cylinder to vinyl record to 8-track to audio cassette to compact disc to flash drive.  So, what should appear here at the tour with no warning, but a giant Walkman that is now on display in the Toy Box.  The Walkman was a huge part of the era of the audio cassette and the compact disc.  It is the sort of thing you really need to see to believe, because it is a pretty remarkable device - and it really works, too!  It stands well over six feet tall and plays normal sized cassettes, despite that it looks like it should play tapes about three feet wide.

The first Walkman was introduced by the Sony Corporation on July 1, 1979.  The Sony story is pretty fascinating, but not for today.  They are one of a number of companies established in Japan just after World War II that would grow to its target market, Honda being another big one. Sony would grow to be a giant in producing electronics expanding the entertainment industry. Their Walkman compact music player changed the way people listened to music.  Prior to the Walkman, the average person could listen to the music of their choice in their car or their home. Or maybe carrying one of those big battery-operated boom boxes.  The Walkman with its light-weight headphones allowed people on the go to enjoy music privately. They weren't bothering anyone and they could listen as they jogged or did chores.  Things we take for granted today with our iPods and MP3 players.  Anyone who remembers their first Walkman, though, remembers just how amazing it was.  

Five years after the Walkman was released for audio cassette playing, the Discman became the source for listening to compact discs.  1989 brought the Video Walkman, which has a small screen on which movies could be watched off of Video 8 format cassettes.  Sony continued using the Walkman name in the digital era  with their MP3 players, first released in 1999 (although they did retire Discman in the same decade). They continue to sell cd players, and have also moved into mobile phone industry.  
QUESTION:  Approximately, how many Walkman units has Sony sold since 1979?
A)  Exactly three units
B)  Approximately 10 million
C)  Close to 25 million
D)  Nearly 400 million

OVER THE ATLANTIC.  On this day in 1910, the America airship departed from an airport in Atlantic City, New Jersey (get it?  "airship" - "airport" not an accident) for the first attempt ever for a heavier than air vehicle to travel over the Atlantic Ocean. In short, it failed.  The belief is that America got sand in its engines, but it also got caught in some tough winds and storms.  It floated around for about three days, never getting so far as Bermuda, before the entire crew and their pet cat Kiddo had to abandon ship.  They got in their lifeboat and were picked up by a nearby steamship.  America, crewless, floated off to the horizon, never to be seen again.

QUOTE:  It's alright letting yourself go as long as you can get yourself back. - Mick Jagger

ANSWER:  D)  Nearly 400 million