Radio was a big hit couple of decades back. Now, satellite radio is a bigger hit. Somehow radio continues to survive and thrive but several other music technologies simply faded away from existence. Case in point being the Walkman and Boombox.
Remember those tiny portable music players that took in audio cassettes? Yup, the first generation of portable music. Well, some might argue that the true first generation of portable music is the boombox but then again, not everyone could carry a boombox on their shoulder to work!
Those were simpler times when sales was measured in terms of audio cassettes sold and nothing else. The notion of piracy existed in the physical realm where one had to actually copy a cassette to break the law rather than just share it online. Creating a playlist took an entire day and hardly lasted more than an hour at most!
It is a pity that the current generation may never come to know the excitement around sharing playlists with friends and family. Audio cassettes really did revolutionize portable music industry. When Sony came out with its Walkman series, it caught on like wild fire and because they understood the first principle of portability is battery power, they worked hard in ensuring their devices lasted the longest.
Soon though many other companies began manufacturing their own portable cassette players but none could capture the imagination of the public as Sony did. A decade passed and then CD players shrunk down to the size of a cassette player making them the latest fad. Naturally, with greater playback time and hence a larger playlist possibility, CD players took over the market and once more Sony managed to dominate by being the first to introduce Stamina series CD Walkman.
Even the traditional boom box received an upgrade as they could not work off audio cassettes as well as CDs. The craze for these two technological marvels was unprecedented. Many companies in fact made a killing around this time. In particular, the Japanese brands were quick to get on the band wagon and the markets were flooded with imported cassette/CD players from Japan.
Those days, you could find every second person jiving to a tune in the subway with a bulky player strapped to their hip. From daily commuters to students and kids, everyone had one or wanted one. Fast forward a few years and the mp3 craze began. With it, CDs became a bigger hit as now you could literally pack in hours of music without having to worry about space. Back then 700Mb was a lot of space. It wasn’t until companies began manufacturing mp3 players that the Walkman and CD players went out of business.
Fact is, the mp3 revolution is what killed portable cassette players. iPods were a natural progressing from thereon. Pity though, many of the current generation will never get to know the excitement of sharing and exchanging cassettes with friends and co-workers. The allure of creating playlists is somehow lost in today’s digital world. It was so much simpler and meaningful back then. You made a playlist spending hours because you felt a connection with the intended recipient! Now, it’s a quick search and your playlist is ready.