Notable And Crazy Sony Cassette Walkman Editions

The Walkman came to life in many shapes and forms through the years. Here are a few of the great, the important and sometimes plain weird Walkman models.

The original TPS-L2 Walkman went on sale 30 years ago today, July 1st 1979, in Japan. It played stereo and had dual mini headphone jacks for sharing audio with a friend. There was a mic, but it was not used for recording, but to output your voice to your buddy's headset so he could hear you over the music. The press received it in a lukewarm fashion, but the device took off thanks to celebrity product placement.

The 1981 WM-2 is the first attempt at making a Walkman so small, its only slightly bigger than the tape.

The first Sony Sport walkman was quite waterproof, with jack plug and gaskets around the buttons and tape hold. From 1984. They offered special edition models for locations like Hawaii and Okinana Beach.

The WM-F2 came out in 1982 and was the first Walkman to include both playback, recording and an FM tuner.

The WM-DD was the first personal model to move from a belt driven motor to a "disc drive" reducing wow and flutter and greatly improving the quality of sound reproduction. It also had a metal case.

The WM-F107 was solar charged, but would not support playback as the power to run the tape was more demand than the now ancient back mounted panel could keep up with. It handled FM fine, however, off the stream of electrons. 1987.

The WM-10 expanded on the tiny WM-2's small form factor, and is considered by the experts at Walkman Central to remain a fine example of reduction engineering. For example: the single AA battery was not actually powerful enough to turn the motors, so they used a step up converter to power the tape drive. 1983.

The 1983 Walkman Music Shuttle was a Walkman that docked into a car stereo. Wow that guy is super stoked to be listening to the same song he was just driving to!

1985: The WM-W800 is a Walkman with TWO tape decks. One for playback, one for recording, which made dubbing tapes ridiculously easy. More photos at Walkman Central.

The WM-3000 from 1990 is one of the earliest My First Sony products designed for kids. They took a basic walkman, and made sure the edges weren't sharp, the batteries couldn't be easily popped out of the back and swallowed and the volume limiter ensured baby eardrums didn't pop under duress of mother goose tapes.

The WM-GX202 is one of the last tape playing Walkmen and guess what? They're still being sold in Japan in 2009! The product's focus is not on music, but on language learning tapes.


Comments

    I still have that old TPS-L2 lying around somewhere... I remember that being built like a tank. That thing was seriously over-engineered in comparison with the "cheapie" cassette-notetakers of today - its transport went on to be used in the WM-D6 (just look at the button arrangement.) Nothing like compared to any of the more recent cassette tape players or even MP3s (though I tip my hat to improved sound quality of MP3.)

    I Believe Sony's engineering also took a turn for the worse. I had a WM-GX670 (supposedly one of the "deluxe" models or that was what I was told), which I bought back in 2002. Compared to the TPS-L2, it totally blew it away in terms of features: the transport was fully logically operated (compared to "fuzzy logic" of TPS-L2) had a remote, Dolby, record, AM/FM and auto-reverse, compared to TPS-L2's hot line. Well, after an accidental drop of about a metre onto carpeted floor, it now refuses to load any tape properly until pressing Play / reverse at least 10 times. There isn't even a dent on the metal work! I dropped the TPS-L2 loads of times over the years, and I'm sure with a couple of new belts its back in business...

      Face it, the electronics of today are pure trash. Durable and repairable = over engineered. Why fix it when you can just throw it away? It is an embarassment.

      It is true that the sound quality of a CD or decent (192 kbps & up) MP3 has better sound quality than a cassette tape... however, the sound quality of a new LP or a reel to reel is STILL better than a CD... even after all of these years. I'm not making this stuff up. Ask any recording expert and they will tell you the same thing. If you have a really old CD made in around 1986 or 1987, you may see a small notice stating the limitations of the sound quality of a Compact Disk. The dynamic range is still wider on high quality analog & nothing gets "lost in translation" due to encoding sound into 1's & 0's

      Pick up one of those 40 pound stereos made in the 60's, 70's or early 80's and you may start to see what I mean. It's also true that the thickness of speakers is decreased by 50% every 10 years (ie a speaker from 1970 is twice as thick as one made in 1980). It is a fact that the quality of audio hardware as well as medium has both declined in quality over the years. Some say that is has become more inexpensive... but when you have to buy a new "system" every 2-3 years, is it really?

      Most new "systems" (gawd) don't even have freaking knobs to control the tone, base, balance, midrange, gain, etc. Most do have 100w speakers that can actually handle about 20w and a "super extreme mega bass boost" button though.

      The way most of them look has even gone way, way beyond "cheap" or "garish" looking. I guess everyone in the market for new audio equipment wants to remodel their homes into Discos. None of my furniture seems to match bright red & chrome with with extremely bright blue and red flashing lights... and I live in Las Vegas! It's disgusting. I refuse to own a stereo made after the mid 80's. Thank god that we still have the option to plug those cheap MP3 players & diskmans into a stereo made for big people.

      New audio fails on sound, durability, design, price and in every other area.

      OK, now that I got that off my chest... wheeew!

      Great article about Walkmans. I found a WM-F46 at a thrift store the other day that was still in the original box for $5! The sound quality of cassettes is slightly less than CD's but... Walkmans don't skip & you can record on them. The old ones can be dropped hundreds of times before they break and you can even repair them most of the time when they do.

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