back to article Sony hits stop on Walkman tape players

Sony is ditching the groundbreaking Walkman cassette player in its home market, 30 years after first launching its assault on the hearing of teens and the patience of the people sat next to them. The electronics giant said that demand for the serial crinkly recording format had nosedived in Japan. "There is still demand in …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Clamp a tranny to your ears

    So, that is what the Reg staff got up to during then 80s.

  2. Ku...

    "Emerging" or "other" markets

    I had assumed by "emerging markets" they were talking about Africa and some East Asian and Subcontinental martkets where there isn't anywhere handy to hook up an MP3 player or get downloads where there isn't even and landline phones. Cassette tape may be a horrible medium in so many ways but its cheap and pretty robust where even "indestructable" CDs will end up scratched and otherwise damaged. Remember when CDs were sold to us as being "indestructable" LOL?

  3. Lottie


    I wasn't aware they were still making tape players.

    I have to admit to my first walkman-esque device kicking off a lifelong aversion to walking without tunes.

    I feel sorry for future generations whose music will just stop when the battery dies instead of gradually lowering in pitch until it ground to a halt.

    Icon: A pint for the origin of the PMP species!

  4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Bring back...

    Bow Wow Wow weren't exactly brilliant but so much more interesting than some of the incredibly manufactured stuff out there at the moment even though it was yet another band put together by legendary ........ Malcolm McLaren. We all assiduously didn't lust after the "teenage sensation", Annabella. There was Claire Grogan for one....

    Where's the "old and past it" icon?

    1. Matt 75
      Dead Vulture

      they probably weren't

      They probably weren't still making them - it's just any time a company like this wants a bit of free publicity they announce that they're going to stop making such-and-such an antiquated device and the media slavishly publish their press release giving free publicity.

      It's getting pretty tedious quite frankly.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        RE: they probably weren't

        Yep, and they still are making them in China. It is just Japan where they have stopped.

        Infact you can still get one on Amazon:

    2. Thomas 4
      Thumb Up

      Those were the days

      I can't decide whether to have a pint icon for the fun times I had trying to get the stupid reverse rewind function to work or a tombstone icon in memory of the mountain of batteries I went through. Either way, I'm deeply grateful for the wonderful technology that helped me ignore a vast number of people in my angsty college years.

  5. The Unexpected Bill

    Fond Memories

    I'm pleased to see that it's still possible to actually buy a brand new one stateside...little miracles never cease, I guess.

    It's also still quite possible to buy compact cassette tapes here as well...practically every discount, hardware and general merchandise store still sells them. (Being somewhat surprised by this, I asked around at a few stores and everyone said that cassettes still move pretty well.)

    As it is (warning, obnoxious opinion coming!!!), I think the good old cassette is insufficiently appreciated--they're cheap, available in long runtime, can sound quite good, and will shrug off abuse that will send CDs and MP3 players into hiding. Recording 'em couldn't be any simpler, either...start any source playing, set the level, hit record and there you go. I'll take that over fiddling with a CD burner and authoring software any day! (Plus, the cassette deck can easily record any source hooked to my stereo, including audio from the computer!)

    It was years before I actually came to have a proper Sony Walkman, but prior to that I had a Koss-branded player that was a gift from my grandmother. I put miles of tape through that thing and it never skipped a beat. Maybe I should dig it out and slap some batteries into it...?

  6. RichyS


    I can't believe that Sony were still making Walkmans. And they wonder why Apple stole a march on them...

  7. Anonymous Coward

    UK mega electricals retailer Dixons doesn't list either cassette....

    Sounds like an endorsement to me - Dixons is neither the arbiter of taste nor the only place to buy tech. It's the last place I'd go for it...

  8. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Tranny radio listening was a very popular communal pastime

    Especially at 12:45 on Tuesday lunchtimes, when the BBC chart was announced. That ages me!

    And yes, radio did promote conversation in kids. See how it is portrayed in "The Boat that Rocked" to get a feel of '60 and '70s radio culture. Because of the cost of record players and radios, music listening was a communal pastime. You would take your new LP around to a mates house to listen to, rather than giving them a copy, as happens now. A household would normally have one TV, one record player and a couple of battery powered radios at most.

    The revolution started with the "Compact Cassette", which allowed you to tape your mates records, and continued through the Walkman era as cassette decks in Hi-Fis got better. In some respects, this paused a bit when CDs first came alone as they were originally a read-only medium.

    I still remember the stir rare-earth magnets caused when they appeared in the headphones which were the other revolution of the time. Allowed music to actually sound passable at low voltages compared to the crap piezoelectric earphones for transistor radios or bulky and current hungry cans that were used on Hi-Fi systems.

  9. Michael 82
    Thumb Up

    End of an era!

    Will miss tho bless'd cassette players of the 90's especially for their ability to run off a single AAA battery and astounding quality with the MEGAbass switch... For thee will be miss'd

    End of an era, but have they stopped production on the portable Minidisc player??????

  10. Anonymous Coward


    I wouldn't trust what Dixons say they stock and don't stock. They'll be no problem getting hold of cassette tapes for years to come.

    Someone told me that it was impossible to get hold of minidisks these days and within five minutes I'd found four suppliers who had huge quantities of them as well as a company who make them. Hell, you can get hold of 1/4 reel to reel tape if you know where to look.

    While the Walkman may be fading out, cassettes will still be around for a while. Even the plod use them for interviews still as they are cheap and aren't easily tampered with.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well, strangely enough

    I was in WHSmith the other day and near the blank DVDs they had not only cassette tapes but floppy disks, both of which I'd been led to understood they stopped stocking many years ago. Presumably the tapes were intended for audio, but I did glance around hopefully for the latest ZX Spectrum release from Code Masters.

  12. MinionZero

    Happy memories

    I haven't used one for years but I'm sorry to hear its going from a nostalgia point of view, as it helped define the 1980s.

    @"a tradition that has lasted longer than any of the intervening recording formats"

    Accelerating technological change means we will see shorter life spans for products.

    R.I.P. Walkman ... here's a pint in memory of the happy times. :)

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Err... what?!?

      "@"a tradition that has lasted longer than any of the intervening recording formats"

      Accelerating technological change means we will see shorter life spans for products."

      That's entirely beside the point. The text you quote refers to the tradition of dire warnings on loss of hearing and wandering into moving traffic. Your response makes no sense.

      Does... not... com... pute....

      1. MinionZero

        Huh? what, where am i?

        I interpreted it as implying it lasted longer as a technology than other recording formats. (obviously not records before it but they were older still tech). Then again I could have been suffering from Monday-morning-caffeine-deprivation (a serious condition, the side effects of which last these days to at least Friday afternoon. ;)

        Anyway it doesn't change the fact that during "Accelerating technological change" we will see "shorter life spans for products." which is what we are seeing (stochastically speaking depending on how big a hit the tech was to start with). So anyway, somewhere through the chaos and smoke filled room of my mind there does seem to be a meaningful signal trying to get out. :)

        Coat icon, with a poor old walkman in the pocket, taking it for one last nostalgic metaphorical walk pretending its the 1980s ... now where's some coffee. :)

    2. William Towle

      Re: Well, strangely enough

      "I was in WHSmith the other day and near the blank DVDs they had not only cassette tapes but floppy disks, both of which I'd been led to understood they stopped stocking many years ago. Presumably the tapes were intended for audio, but I did glance around hopefully for the latest ZX Spectrum release from Code Masters."

      Likewise I was in Leeds' Clas Ohlsen "usefulshopp", saw saw floppy disks, and did a double take ... although I'm fairly sure that every newspaper report I saw on "[the] death of the floppy" suggested complete unavailability but before the Chinese whispers of modern reporting started out as "another manufacturer ramps down/stops production" - including the latest.

      1. Stu_The_Jock

        Clas Ohlson ?

        Finally heard of someone that's been into a Clas ohlson in the UK. One of the best "handy bits" shops over here in Norway, and I used their catalogue to help me learn Norwegian when I moved . . usefull words like the names of tools ;) It's generally seen as a "refuge for men escaping the shoeshops" when out with the wife.

  13. heyrick Silver badge

    "...teenagers stopped talking to one another..."

    It was great for people who didn't fit into a predefined social group (back in the '80s, nerd wasn't a recognised option). I could easily make up my own selection of music and listen. Didn't stop me talking to anybody, more like it saved me from having to talk to people I didn't want to. :-)

    Had an original Walkman, and several later incarnations. To be honest, I'm surprised tape lasted this long. I find it amusing to see the comments on battery life. Perhaps you're all thinking of those portable CD players that can run down four AAs in a couple of hours? My little MP3 player can run for some 24 hours on a single charge. The others I have can do around 6-7 hours from an AAA. Not so bad, really. And there's a serious win with MP3 in that if I really like a specific song, one button-press will play it again. Plus I can set my player to "shuffle" so it is a completely random selection each time, unlike tapes where I learned pretty quickly which song was next, and listening to specific songs involved a lot of faffing around getting the tape in the right place - which was often a delicate balance of pressing Play just enough to hear the fweefweescreee sounds of the tape at speed, but not so much that the tape got eaten.

    IT angle? A decent Walkman that played the tapes at the right speed (unlike <cough> some) could be easily hooked up to a Beeb for loading software into the machine...

  14. Andrew Parsons

    Cassette only releases

    Ironically the self released and micro label cassette market is booming. The number of small bands and labels putting out limited runs is quite phenomenal. It seems to have overtaken the cdr as the format of choice.

    1. Lottie


      I was quite surprised when a local indie label started releasing everything on cassettes.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      "Hooked up to a Beeb"

      As long as the two channels were in phase and not skewed, and you could do without the motor control.

      I had no end of trouble with stereo players and the Beeb. Ended up making a cable that would only connect the left or the right channel, but never both. Always recommended a good mono tape recorder to other people.

      Beebs were remarkably tolerant of the tape speed. There was a tape deck you could buy that had an adjustable speed controller on the motor. You could speed it up by nearly 10% before you had any loading issues. Really made a difference for the longer games. Some game manufacturers advertised faster loading speeds by actually recording with a slower tape drive before duplication, so they were faster on normal players.

      Ahhh. Gone are the days of *OPT 1,2 followed by *LOAD and then by swapping the tapes and a *SAVE with the correct parameters to copy tape games.

      Someone has actually got a BBC micro user guide on the net at "". Bizarre, but welcome. I didn't have to risk opening my decrepit and fragile copy in order to refresh my memory of the *OPT numbers for extended info for CFS.

  15. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Best thing about the Walkman was...

    ... no speakers, just headphones.

    Now we've got mobiles trying our patience. Considering that it's the old farts who design the mobiles for the yout, the one who first put the play to speaker option in was rather remiss in his or her work.

  16. bolccg


    I always heard that the head of Sony's daughter asked him to sort something out for her but here you suggest in was an in-flight thing?

    Anyone got the "definitive" version of this?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Ghetto Blasters

    I remember those ghetto blasters, or "boombox". They had the size of bazookas, where "shoulder mounted", and caused just as much damage to everybody ears. They were lots of fun. And chew size D batteries too.

    The de-facto rewinding mechanism for these walkmans is your standard 20c BIC ballpoint pen. Did you ever notice how the hexagonal shape of the pen matches PERFECTLY the size of center pin in the cassettes? Fit in, and give it a twirl. It would rewind in 30 seconds. Major battery-saver. Be careful when turning, otherwise the cassettes fly off and cause damage.

  18. markfiend

    Hearing loss predictions

    ...were not entirely unwarranted, as I can testify. Or at least I would if I heard you ask the question.

    Quarter-past three.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      The hearing loss predictions of any merit did warn that the effects would not be seen for many years in significant quantities.

      Only now are we starting to see the results and there do seem to be some worrying trends.

    2. proto-robbie
      Paris Hilton

      For C90s and C120s ...

      ... sticking the biro into a Black & Decker reduces the wrist ache. Although I seemed to have a better grip back then, for some reason.

  19. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    Wired for Sound video...

    ... ah yes, with the 80's girls in the unitards and leg-warmers...

    Fond memories... ;-)

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Methinks you just invented a new Reg style word for students lol

      Also, to the Apple fanboi (can't remember your name, can't be arsed looking), you do realise Sony make mp3 players too, called Walkmans and the fact that they still make one product doesn't preclude them from making another?

      Apple "stole the march" because of a marketing victory, so allow the iPod to become to mp3 players what a "Walkman" was in 80s. Still, it's still a proprietary format, so I wouldn't piss on one myself, much like the iPod.

      I notice none of the articles mention that, but I guess they can't be seen to suggest that there's an alternative to the iPod. Feckin bodysnatchers.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still have one

    An '80's job with Dolby and dbx in a spiffy black anodized die-cast case. Sounds fab, still -- and the magnetic media seems to have fared far better than my CD's -- a high percentage of which appear to have turned into coasters. My Technics tape deck still works fine, too. I regret having sold my Revox reel-to-reel, through. The quality of these devices easily equals that of good MP3's (though not FLAC) and far, far surpasses digital radio.

    But then I still have a 1936 bakelite radio for which you can still buy valves.

    Just because its old and analogue doesn't mean it shouldn't still be enjoyed be functional.

  21. andy gibson


    Still selling them also:

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