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Today when we have unlimited songs in our pocket, we take them for granted, but forty years ago in 1979, when Sony’s first portable music player the “Walkman” debuted, a personal, portable music player was unheard of. From being a shared experience, music suddenly became a deep personal soundscape, hammering between one’s ears.
Though big by today’s standards, the Walkman was a tiny thing to behold in Japan, where it debuted, and the youth took to the funky gadget that could carry one’s music out of the bedroom, into the subway and city streets. Sony ended up selling two million Walkmans in less than two years.
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Steve Jobs, who received a Walkman from the Sony head, Akio Morita, himself, chose to dissect it piece by piece, understanding the machinery behind it. Twenty years later he debuted the iPod, his own version of the portable music player, which had a hard-disk at that time.
The 80s saw celebrities like Donna Summer, Paul Simon, Andy Warhol and many others flashing the Walkman, turning it into a status symbol.
Earphones, earlier associated with geekery or hearing problems, suddenly turned cool.
The Walkman goes into history as a social distancing device, isolating people who would want to stay immersed in music, blocking out the rest of the world. This was later termed as the Walkman Effect.
The headphones served as both a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and an instant w...
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In 1910, Nathaniel Baldwin invented headphones. A prototype was sent to Lt. Comdr. A. J. Hepburn of the U.S. Navy. Hepburn tested the device and found it worked unexpectedly well to transmit sound.
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