To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Sony’s introduction of the Walkman which forever changed how personal music was defined, the BBC thought it would be an interesting experiment to have a 13 year old child trade in their iPod for one week for a classic Sony Walkman without any instructions other than to say the Walkman was the iPod of it’s day.
It was interesting to read the child’s insight into the whole thing, my personal favorite comment was it took three days before he realized there was a second side to the cassette. He also missed the shuffle feature of his iPod but decided he could simulate it by randomly holding down the rewind and stopping at random spots. It was also a great laugh to read how big and clunky he thought the device was because it’s huge compared to the iPod, but back in the day it was cutting edge small technology.
I still remember my first Walkman, I don’t remember the brand of it but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Sony one. I used to listen to it all the time, even took it to bed so I could listen to my music to fall asleep, a habit I still have. I have a hard time falling asleep without music playing. Yes, the buttons were big and clunky, and for that matter so were the players. I always wanted one of the Walkmans with a built in speaker but never did ever get one of those. Cassettes weren’t a perfect medium, but they are what got me through the 1980’s. I didn’t get my first CD player until 1989.
My very last Walkman is a Sony and I still have it. It rarely gets used, but one of the things it does have that my iPod definitely doesn’t have was a built in AM/FM radio. Although I suppose my iPod Touch can access my Sirius Satellite Radio account, so I suppose that earns it some points but it only does so in the presence of a Wi-Fi connection. I’ve mainly kept the Walkman because I do still have a bunch of my original cassettes and I still have some music on them that I’ve never replaced with CDs or even MP3s and one of these days I might make an effort to transfer a few of them.
In any case, I love my iPods and don’t really want to go back to cassette technology. But its definitely fun to read about the technology you grow up with from the perspective of young kids who aren’t familiar with that technology. If you’d like to read more of the 13 year old’s views on Walkman technology, click here to visit the article on the BBC’s website. My only complaint is the kid didn’t truly get the full Walkman experience because he used his earbud headsets instead of those big clunky things the Walkman’s originally came with. Remember those?
Thanks to my friend Ted Wilkinson for pointing out this article for me.