Walkman logo.svg
Original Sony Walkman TPS-L2.JPG
Original Sony Walkman TPS-L2 from 1979
TypePortable media player
LifespanJuly 1, 1979 – October 25, 2010 (Compact Cassette Tape Edition); Approximately 1979 (AM/FM radio); July 1, 1984 – present (all other editions)
Units sold385 million (as of March 31, 2009)[1]

Walkman is a series of portable media players and some Xperia mobile phones manufactured by Sony. The original Walkman, released in 1979, was a portable cassette player that changed listening habits by allowing people to listen to music on the move.[2][3] It was devised by Sony cofounder Masaru Ibuka, who felt Sony's existing portable player was too unwieldy and expensive. A prototype was built from a modified Sony Pressman, a compact tape recorder designed for journalists and released in 1977.[4]

The Walkman was followed by a series of international releases; as overseas sales companies objected to the Japanese-English name, it was sold under several names, including Soundabout in the United States, Freestyle in Australia and Sweden, and Stowaway in the UK.[5][6] Eventually, in the early 1980s, Walkman caught on globally and Sony used the name worldwide. In everyday language, "walkman" became a generic term, referring to personal stereos of any producer or brand.[7] Sony continues to use the Walkman brand for most of its portable audio devices.


Magnetic cassette technology was developed in 1963 by the Dutch electronics firm Philips. In the late 1960s, the introduction of prerecorded cassette tapes made it possible to listen to tapes of music on car stereos, though vinyl remained the most popular format for home listening.[8]

Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka used Sony's bulky TC-D5 cassette recorder to listen to music while traveling for business. He asked executive deputy president Norio Ohga to design a playback-only stereo version optimized for headphone use.[8] The first prototype was built from a modified Sony Pressman, a mono cassette recorder.[8]

The metal-cased blue-and-silver Walkman TPS-L2, the world's first low-cost portable stereo, went on sale in Japan on July 1, 1979, and was sold for around ¥39,433.58 (or $150.00), or ¥57,109.02 (or $498.66) adjusted for inflation.[9] Though Sony predicted it would sell about 5,000 units a month, it sold more than 50,000 in the first two months.[8] Sony introduced the Walkman in the US as the Soundabout and the UK as the Stowaway; as developing new, copyright-free names in every country was expensive, Sony settled on Walkman, a play on Pressman.[8] The TPS-L2 was introduced in the U.S. in June 1980.[8]

In October 2010, it was reported that manufacturing of the cassette-based Walkman would cease in Japan, but that Sony would continue production of the device in China to accommodate users abroad, including in the United States, Europe, and some Asian countries.[10] Once the final units are sold, they will not be available from the manufacturer. With the increased popularity of MP3 players, it was the CD (compact disc) player that originally caused the decline of the Walkman.[11] Sony continues to make cassette-based Walkman devices in China for the US and other overseas markets; however, they were discontinued in Japan only on October 23, 2010.[12]

Other Languages
العربية: وكمان
català: Walkman
čeština: Walkman
dansk: Walkman
Deutsch: Walkman
español: Walkman
فارسی: واکمن
français: Walkman
galego: Walkman
한국어: 워크맨
Bahasa Indonesia: Walkman
íslenska: Walkman
italiano: Walkman
עברית: ווקמן
ქართული: Walkman
magyar: Walkman
Bahasa Melayu: Walkman
Nederlands: Walkman
norsk: Walkman
polski: Walkman
português: Walkman
română: Walkman
русский: Walkman
Simple English: Walkman
slovenčina: Walkman (značka)
suomi: Walkman
svenska: Walkman
తెలుగు: వాక్‌మెన్
Türkçe: Walkman
Tiếng Việt: Walkman
中文: Walkman