It was 35 years ago Tuesday that Sony, not Apple, revolutionized the way we listen to music.
The Walkman, a portable cassette player that, for the first time, let us take our music with us without bothering our neighbors, hit the market on July 1, 1979.
Today, it's all about Apple's iPod. But in its heyday, the Walkman was as synonymous with portable music players as Kleenex became to tissue and Xerox was to copy machines.
Released in 1979, the TPS-L2 was the first model of Walkman that Sony released. It wasn't the very first portable cassette player designed to let users listen on the go. But the earlier product, called the Stereobelt, was considered too big, ugly and expensive and didn't last long.
"Walkman" is an iconic brand name today. But originally, the Japanese Sony was afraid English-speaking customers would find the name odd and shipped it in the U.S. and other countries as "Soundabout." The company quickly recognized the error and returned to the original name.
Sony was originally unsure how popular its groundbreaking music player would be. Many analysts thought it wouldn't sell because it only played cassettes and couldn't record.
Two years later, in 1981, came the Walkman II. It was smaller than the original and barely bigger than a cassette tape. It sold around 1.5 million units. The Walkman II originally came only in silver, but black and red models were latter added.
The Walkman was a delicate piece of tech that you could carry around with you, as long as you were careful with it. Then came the "Sports Walkman," the WM-F5, in 1984, with an extra-thick plastic casing that made it water resistant and more durable.
The Walkman line has lost much of its shine in the iPod era. But like the rest of the tech world, Sony has gone digital with its iconic product. The most recent Walkman mp3 players include last year's NWZ-W273. Smaller than many headphones, the set even lets you wear them in the pool.
Bowing to digital reality, Sony retired the cassette Walkman in 2010.