Walkman is a Sony brand tradename originally used for portable audio cassette players, and now used to market Sony’s portable audio and video players as well as a line of former Sony Ericsson mobile phones. The original Walkman introduced a change in music listening habits by allowing people to carry music with them and listen to music through lightweight headphones.
The prototype was built in 1978 by audio-division engineer Nobutoshi Kihara for Sony co-chairman Akio Morita, who wanted to be able to listen to operas during his frequent trans-Pacific plane trips. The original Walkman was marketed in 1979 as the Walkman in Japan and, from 1980, the Soundabout in many other countries including the US, Freestyle in Sweden and the Stowaway in the UK.Advertising, despite all the foreign languages, still attracted thousands of buyers in the US specifically. Morita hated the name “Walkman” and asked that it be changed, but relented after being told by junior executives that a promotion campaign had already begun using the brand name and that it would be too expensive to change.
The names “Walkman”, “Pressman”, “Watchman”, “Scoopman”, “Discman”, and “Talkman” are trademarks of Sony, and have been applied to a wide range of portable entertainment devices manufactured by the company. The name “Walkman” was based on its precursor, the Pressman tape recorder. An initial prototype of the Walkman was in fact made by replacing the recording circuit and speaker from the Pressman with a stereo amplifier. Sony continues to use the “Walkman” brand name for most of their portable audio devices, after the “Discman” name for CD players was dropped in the late 1990s
In March 2007, Sony extended the brand by launching its first all-digital, flash-based video Walkman, the A800 series, where A stands for “All in one, Advanced, and Attractive”
A portable personal stereo audio cassette player, called Stereobelt, was first invented by the German-Brazilian Andreas Pavel in 1972. Pavel filed a patent for his Stereobelt in Italy in 1977, followed by patent applications in the U.S.,Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan by the end of 1978. His patent applications in the U.S. and the U.K. were rejected.
In 1979, Sony began selling the popular Walkman in Japan, and in 1980 started legal talks with Pavel regarding a royalty fee. In 1986 Sony finally agreed to pay royalties to Pavel, but only for sales in Germany, and only for a few models, and refused to acknowledge him as the inventor of the device.
In 2001, Pavel threatened Sony with legal suits in every country in which he had patented his invention. The corporation agreed to resume talks with Pavel and a settlement was finally reached in 2003. The exact settlement fee is a closely guarded secret but European press accounts said that Pavel received a cash settlement for damages in excess of $10,000,000 and is now also receiving royalties on some Walkman sales. The settlement also includes a clause which will prevent Pavel from bringing future law suits.
The highest quality Sony Walkman was the Walkman Professional. In contrast to other models, it was capable of recording. Introduced in 1982 as the TC/WM-D6 and then upgraded as the TC/WM-D6C, which added Dolby C noise reduction on September 1, 1984, it was comparable in audio quality to high-fidelity professional audio equipment. Many magazines began to compare it with non-portable cassette decks. The Walkman Professional had bright LED recording level meters and manual control of recording levels which were unique features not found in other portable units. It was equipped with quartz-lock capstan servo and amorphous head. Powered by a 6V adapter or 4 AA batteries (compared with 2 for most Walkman models), it was widely used by journalists and developed a following among hi-fi enthusiasts. Even more unusual for a consumer-electronics product, it remained in production until 2002 essentially unchanged, with only one internal improvement, a reworked circuit board that used SMD components. One of Henry Rollins’ early spoken word CDs was recorded with a Walkman Pro.