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Miss the Walkman? Yeah Me Neither.

By Ben Cox -- Get free updates of new posts here

As a child of the 80s I love Walkman. Naturally I felt a little nostalgic when I heard the news last week that Sony was discontinuing the Walkman brand. While I like what Walkman was in the 80s and 90s, I’m not surprised Sony dropped the axe on this beloved brand. The Sony Walkman used to the the cutting edge of technology, or at least consumers thought it was with features such as turbo bass, electronic skip protection and others. At some point Sony quit leading the charge in hand held music devices and just tried to keep up. I primarily have used these devices while working out, the following is a time line of the products I have used while working out.

1990 – In elementary school, if you had a Walkman, you were cool. End of story.

1993 – By the mid 90’s it wasn’t good enough for a middleschooler to simply have a portable tape player. If you were cool you had one that had different sound settings. If it was a really good player it had settings for different kinds of cassette tapes as well. The serious music nerds, like myself, were using top quality blank cassettes to make awesome mix tapes.

1995 – If you were still rocking a tape player by the end of middle school forget talking to chicks, let alone dating one. The only problem this presented was the CD skipping while running. You see “skipping” what what happened when the device playing a compact disc was moved a fraction of an inch and the “laser” reading the information from the disc was thrown into complete chaos. When this happened you stopped everything you were doing, and didn’t move for about 30-40 minutes while the machine regained its composure and continued playing. Sadly tape players were still necessary while working out. this wasn’t all bad since you could still blast your awesome mix tapes.

1997 – My first break from Sony came with the Philips Jogproof claim. As technology caught up with consumers’ expectations, we were finally able to actually jog while listening to a CD. It wasn’t perfect and it did still skip, but not nearly as bad as before. Those of us who couldn’t afford an actual CD player in our car could also play our portable CD players through a magical little cassette connected to the CD player. The only problem now was having 700 CDs with one song you listened to on each one, because we weren’t yet able to transfer the concept of the mix tape to the CD medium.

1999 – Back to Sony for the Sony Sports Discman. With this beautiful piece of music machinery you could jump off a building while listening to your favorite song, land ten stories below, roll into the street, get hit by a bus and thrown off a cliff and you would still be rocking out.

Being a poor college student by this time, coupled with the functionality of this device I used this through college. By 2001 I had a computer that allowed me to rip songs off all of my CDs as well as get whatever songs I wanted from other students who shared their music files on the Simpson College network, and from sites like Napster. The only time I really used my Discman in college was while running. I usually made a mix CD 95% of which used songs acquired illegally.

There started to be some mp3 devices on the market, but they were all extremely expensive and held about as many, or less, songs than I could burn on to a CD, so through college I used my rip and burn and listen method.

2004 – My final break from Sony came with the first MP3 player that made sense to me was the Rio Nitrus. It cost about $69, the software was easy to use and the device held about .5 gb, which would usually hold between 100 and 200 songs. It was enough that I could create a long playlist for road trip or several trips to the gym without hearing the same songs over and over.

2005 – The only problem with the Nitrus was that it wasn’t compatible with Apple Computers. My Dell reached its 4 year lifespan deadline and self destructed leaving my nitrus forever stuck with the same 150 songs. I bought a iPod Shuffle and although it didn’t have a display on the device, it connected seamlessly with iTunes and my Mac. It also was very easy to run with.

By this time, I was getting in to running more and more. I also had some more disposable income. In addition to my Shuffle I had a heart rate monitor that I ran with. Eventually I bought a Garmin GPS watch as well.

2007 – I updated to the iPod Nano, which held a lot more songs than the Shuffle, had a color screen and was just about the same size. I still mainly used the Nano while running, and not I also had two other devices(and a chest strap for the heart monitor) that I lugged around whenever I ran. To me it was worth it because I could listen to music and get an accurate assessment of my run from how hard I was working to how far and fast I ran.

Last year I upgraded to a Garmin watch that also displayed heart rate, so I was able to get rid of the Polar. I still had an iPod and a watch. 20 years ago when I ran I used one product, the Sony Walkman. Three years ago I used three products, none of which were made by Sony. Today I use one.

2010 – When I was eight years old and loved my Sony Walkman, and for years whenever Sony would release something new, I would eat it up. Now I’m 28 and Sony hasn’t even been on my radar for 5-10 years. Now its Apple and their iPod/iPhone. When I run now I use the Nike+ app that uses the same GPS technology that my Garmin watch used and is a lot less buggy. It also is a music player, and a phone. Oh, and 5 billion other things, except a Walkman.

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