43 years ago, on July 1, 1979, a novelty arrived at electronics stores in Japan – the Sony Walkman TPS-L2 compact cassette player – a baby destined to turn the world upside down, becoming an icon and a must-have attribute of the 1980s generation.

The Walkman was born because Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka got tired of using the bulky Sony TC-D5 cassette player on numerous business trips. He asked Executive Deputy President Norio Oh to develop a music-only stereo version of the tape recorder, optimized for listening with headphones while commuting.

The first price of the Sony Walkman TPS-L2 was ¥33,000 or $150 (about $600 in 2022 prices). Sony planned to sell about 5,000 players per month, but unexpectedly, the Walkman became a real hit and sold 30,000 units in the first 2 months alone. In general, by 2009, more than 385 million Walkmans had been sold around the world. And this is not counting clones and variations on the theme from other manufacturers.

Photo of the day: 1979 Sony Walkman TPS-L2

Photo: The first Walkman in 1979 at the “It’s a Sony” exhibition at the Sony Building in Ginza, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo. Photographer Yoshikazu Takada.

The Walkman line still exists in the form of digital players for music lovers at a completely undemocratic price. At a time when almost everyone listens to music on the go from smartphones, Walkmans have found their niche, and they seem to be doing quite well.

Happy birthday, Walkman!