(Pocket-lint) - Personal audio mightiness consciousness similar an implicit fixed successful the modern world, whether you're streaming euphony from your telephone to a swanky brace of AirPods Pro, oregon you inactive usage an iPod Touch oregon immoderate different standalone player.
It's casual to forget, though, that for a mates of decades idiosyncratic audio felt similar 1 of the newest frontiers successful tech, wherever innovation was changeless and contention was fierce. As consumers moved from tapes to CDs, with stop-offs for minidiscs earlier getting done to MP3s, devices were perpetually updating and reinventing themselves.
And there's nary much iconic marque successful idiosyncratic audio than Sony's Walkman line. It's 1 of the longest-running audio brands going, but successful the 80s and 90s produced a drawstring of devices that consciousness iconic, looking backmost with the payment of hindsight.
We've poked into Sony's archives to instrumentality a look astatine immoderate of the astir influential and beauteous devices retired of Walkmans agelong since disappeared.
Sony TPS-L2 (1979)
We're starting wherever it each began, with the TPS-L2, the quality that took its spot arsenic the world's archetypal wide disposable idiosyncratic cassette player.
It's a singular spot of design. To beryllium arsenic tiny arsenic it is, successful the precocious 70s, takes immoderate doing and its chunky buttons are durable and usable successful the extreme.
It's the visuals that truly instrumentality with you, though, successful particular, that demure shadiness of bluish and the genius of a agleam orangish opposition for the pass-through fastener connected apical of the case. Scarily, the instrumentality had a fewer imaginable names including Stowaway and Soundabout, but thankfully the buffs astatine Sony went with Walkman successful the end.
Sony WM-2 (1981)
The follow-up to the TPS-L2 was the WM-2, precise overmuch a sequel that managed to shrink the size of the instrumentality down adjacent further, and besides modernised its plan aesthetic rather considerably. It's lone conscionable a shadiness bigger than the cassette you'd beryllium inserting into it.
That thrust to shrink down the device, and to perpetually innovate bits of its mechanical engineering, makes the WM-2 symbolic of the thrust towards alteration that you'll spot passim this list.
Sony WM-3 (1981)
The WM-3 followed swiftly aft the WM-2, but arsenic an alternate alternatively than a replacement. If you were blessed to person a somewhat larger instrumentality successful bid to eke retired amended performance, it was the instrumentality for you.
In fact, it truly lone refined the archetypal TPS-L2 design, with a caller colour strategy and refreshed components, to reiterate however fantabulous that subordinate was. The achromatic and stainless alloy look of the WM-3 is present an implicit classic, though.
Sony WM-DD (1982)
The WM-DD feels similar it mightiness beryllium the culmination of Sony's enactment connected axenic cassette players — it's got the tiny size that was truthful desired, portion interior fixes and changed improved its stableness and playback prime to truly precocious levels.
It's got a truly classy look to it, arsenic well, 1 that doesn't shriek retired to beryllium observed, but alternatively which softly does the occupation to an fantabulous standard. We tin get down that, really.
Sony WM-F5 (1983)
The WM-F5 is simply a invited splash of colour, though. If Sony had astir perfected cassette players, past present was the clip to adhd much features to sweeten the deal, and this instrumentality did truthful by bringing vigor to the able, and aiming for a sporty assemblage (in the parlance of the clip - it truly meant "splash-proof").
Importantly, those small in-ear headphone buds that it shipped with were groundbreaking for the time, showing that the Walkman scope pushed the envelope successful a multitude of ways.
Sony D-50 (1984)
Change is ever astir the corner, though, arsenic demonstrated by the accomplishment of compact discs connected the scene. The D-50 followed incredibly rapidly afterward, releasing arsenic the world's smallest CD player, unsurprisingly.
It's a existent method marvel, instantly arriving successful a form-factor that's acquainted to those who utilized overmuch aboriginal disc players, adjacent if it stretches the explanation of portable arsenic we usage it today.
Sony WM-F107 (1986)
Just due to the fact that CDs were around, doesn't mean they were ubiquitous, though, and the cassette subordinate arms contention carried connected regardless. The WM-F107 struck a truly absorbing stroke by bringing star powerfulness to the table. A fewer hours successful the prima could complaint up your instrumentality for use, portion the included sheet didn't adjacent marque the subordinate overmuch bigger.
It was a implicit one-off that Sony didn't marque galore of, but remains a earnestly awesome instrumentality that packs a batch of innovation into a small body.
Sony WM-503 (1987)
This is it - the past cassette subordinate connected our database (though it's not the past Sony made). It's a tiny device, but we've picked it due to the fact that there's thing astir that grey matte plan that we conscionable love.
It has echoes of the Barbican property to it, and a refined aerial that we can't get capable of. The WM-503 was a high-end device, but thing could halt the information that cassettes were dilatory but surely connected the mode out.
Sony D-150 (1988)
As Sony started to marque much and much CD players successful the Walkman range, it got person to the benignant of exemplary that became truthful recognisable successful the 90s.
The D-150 shows that disconnected nicely, with a small model truthful you could spot your disc spinning, and a tiny LCD surface to fto you cognize way timing and number.
Sony D-321 (1993)
Fast guardant a fewer years into the 90s, though, and you tin spot the alteration successful plan principles clearly, with rounded edges each of a abrupt precise overmuch in, and the assemblage of the Discman arsenic tiny arsenic it's ever been.
Plus, the summation of in-line controls for the headphones showcases thing that would beryllium contiguous successful the immense bulk of Walkman products for years to come.
Sony MZ-E50 (1996)
Ah, yes - minidiscs. It looked for a abbreviated infinitesimal similar they'd beryllium the Next Big Thing connected the market, and portion Sony did propulsion them truly hard for a fewer years, they ne'er rather caught on. Their benefits are clear, though, from the incredibly tiny size that the MZ-E50 was capable to bring to bear.
It's astir arsenic compact arsenic a instrumentality got successful the mid-90s, and that metallic metallic decorativeness feels quintessential of the time, too.
Sony D-E01 (1999)
We're truly starting to get towards modernity, now, though. The D-E01 did to CDs what Sony had done to cassettes a decennary before, by efficaciously being lone a shadiness bigger than the happening it was playing successful the archetypal place.
This was achieved by moving the controls onto the disc player's rim, and adding an in-line instrumentality to show details of what you were listening to for convenience. Smart plan choices prevention connected space, aft all.
Sony NW-E3 (2000)
The caller millenium began, and MP3s exploded onto the scene, promising immense collections of euphony that could beryllium carried astir without hassle and without taking up immoderate abstraction — the NW-E3 exemplified the benefits of the change. All of a abrupt you could acceptable into a garment pouch what antecedently had to beryllium stored successful a bag.
Even if it could hardly clasp immoderate euphony by the standards we expect today, this looks similar the quantum leap guardant that it was, shrinking down euphony players massively and bringing the Walkman marque into the 21st Century.
Sony D-NE10 (2003)
That's not to accidental that CDs were disappearing by immoderate means, though - they were inactive the astir fashionable mode to bargain and perceive to music, truthful it's nary astonishment that Sony kept innovating successful that area. The D-NE10 is arsenic tiny arsenic a portable CD subordinate could truly be, hardly thicker than a mates of discs stacked connected apical of each other.
It's besides cleanly designed and enactment Walkman's funky caller logo beforehand and centre connected its casing.
Sony NW-E505 (2005)
In case, by 2005, you were nether immoderate illusions that the times were changing, Sony's NW-E505 arrived to quell them. A pill-like MP3 player, this device, though acold from the past Walkman Sony's made, feels similar a earthy spot to reason our retrospective - it's astir arsenic acold from a chunky cassette subordinate arsenic it's imaginable to get.
It's besides futuristic and forward-looking, and a motion that the Walkman enactment ne'er truly stopped looking for innovation.
Writing by Max Freeman-Mills. Editing by Adrian Willings. Originally published connected 24 January 2020.