The Walkman was first built by audio engineer Nobutoshi Kihara for Sony co-chairman Akio Morita so that he could listen to operas on his flights. It was quickly pushed to market in 1979, originally as the "Soundabout," in the U.S., but eventually the Walkman name took over.
The Walkman name is assuredly attached to countless memories for anyone over twenty years of age, from Christmas mornings to the first time you passed along a mix tape to that potential special someone. The word "Walkman" could almost be equated with "freedom," as it brought along the ability to take your music anywhere you wanted, enabling people everywhere to shut out the world or share music with friends.
According to Sony, the last shipment of the Walkman was produced in Japan in April, and when this last batch sells out, it's the end. All hope isn't lost to tape-heads around the globe, though: A Chinese company is reportedly picking up some of the slack -- although these subsequent players will most likely only be available throughout Asia.
The Walkman name will still live on in other devices, including Sony's portable MP3 players and phones, but gone are the days of the satisfying "click" at the end of an album. It's a sad day for mix-tape pioneers and jogging Luddites, but rest assured, one of the first devices to put piracy in the hands of fans will live on in memory.
Oddly, this comes just a few months after Sony announced it would finally cease production of another '80s phenomenon, the floppy disc, which brought a tear to the eye of geeks across the globe last April. Somewhat amazingly, Sony is still producing portable CD and mini-disc players, though it's just as likely they'll be next on the chopping block.
Be sure to pour one out for the Walkman tonight.