Walkman is a popular Sony brand used to market its portable audio and video players. The original Walkman introduced a change in music listening habits, allowing people to carry their own choice of music with them.
The original Walkman was marketed in 1979 as the Walkman in Japan, the Soundabout in many other countries including the US, Freestyle in Sweden and the Stowaway in the UK. The device was created by audio division engineer Nobutoshi Kihara for Sony co-chairman Morita, who wanted to be able to listen to operas during his frequent transpacific plane trips. Morita hated the name "Walkman" and asked it to be changed, but relented after being told by junior executives that a promotion campaign had already begun using the 'Walkman' name and would be too expensive to change.
However, the original patent for a personal stereo was registered by Balram Shotam (Baal). The patent was filed in the U.K in 1974. Baal had a prototype built in 1972 while he was in the record industry as President of Baal Records distributing ABC and AVCO (Stylistics) records. He used his prototype extensively while travelling on airplanes between local studios in Belgium and Abbey Road studios in London when he was producing and audio-engineering the October Cherries Dreamseller album for EMI in Belgium. The patent number in the UK is #2064326. This was the first wearable electronic entertainment device ever patented and a copy of the patent was sent to Akio Morita of Sony including copies to Matsushita in Japan in 1976. The patent was for a transportable cassette player which did not allow recording and was solely connected to headphones.
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. 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. According to Sony, the plural form is "Walkman Personal Stereos", rather than "Walkmans" or "Walkmen" (presumably to preserve their trademark on "Walkman").
In March 2007, Sony extended the Video Walkman brand by launching its first digital, flash-based video Walkman, the A800 series, where A stands for "All in one", "Advanced", and "Attractive".
The original blue-and-silver Walkman model TPS-L2 went on sale in Japan on July 1, 1979. In the UK, it came with stereo playback and two mini headphone jacks, permitting two people to listen at the same time (though it came with only one pair of MDR-3L2 headphones). Where the Pressman had the recording button, the Walkman had a "hotline" button which activated a small built-in microphone (the Pressman), partially overriding the sound from the cassette, and allowing one user to talk to the other over the music. The dual jacks and "hotline" button were phased out in the follow-up Walkman II model.
Some devices were also capable of recording. The highest quality Sony Walkman recording cassette deck was the Walkman Professional WM-D6C. It was introduced in 1984, and was comparable in audio quality with many of the best non-portable cassette decks. Unusual for a portable device, the Walkman Professional had bright LED recording level meters and manual control of recording levels. It was equipped with quartz direct drive capstan, and amorphous head. Powered by local AC mains or by 4 AA batteries (compared with 2 for most Walkman models), it was widely used by journalists and developed a following among hi-fi enthusiasts; unusual for a consumer-electronics product, it was in production, unchanged, for almost 20 years. One of Henry Rollins' early spoken word CDs was recorded with a Walkman Pro.
Amid fierce competition, primarily from Toshiba (the Walky), Aiwa (the CassetteBoy) and Panasonic, by the late 80s, Sony upped the ante once again by creating the playback-only WM-DD9, launched in 1989 during the 10th anniversary of the Walkman (five years after the WM-D6C) and became the holy grail for a niche group of cassette Walkman collectors. It is the only auto-reverse Walkman in history to use a two motor, quartz locked, disc drive system similar to high-end home cassette decks to ensure accurate tape speed for both sides of playback (only one motor operates at a time depending on the side of the tape being played). Power consumption was improved by requiring only either one AA battery or one gumstick-type rechargeable, with optional AC adaptor input. It is also equipped with a tight gap amorphous tape head capable of reproducing the full 20–20,000 Hz frequency range, a gold plated headphone jack, and a 2 mm thick aluminum body. Sony made this model with only sound quality in mind, therefore it contains no gimmick features such as in-line remote control, music search, or LCD readout. Its only features are Dolby B/C noise reduction decoding, Mega Bass/DBB bass boost, tape type select, and two auto reverse modes.
By the late 1990s, the cassette-based Walkman was generally passed over in favor of the emerging digital technologies of CD, DAT and MiniDisc. After 2000, cassette-based Walkman products (and their clones) were approaching technological obsolescence as the cassette format was gradually phased out. However, Sony still continues to make cassette-based Walkman personal stereos today.
Every five years since the Walkman personal stereo was born in 1979 until 1999, Sony would celebrate by coming out with an anniversary cassette model on July 1st with unprecedented breakthroughs in technology and features. Each anniversary model carries a different theme while retaining some characteristics of previous anniversary models: WM-701S (user friendliness theme with remote control and slim sterling silver plated body — 1989), WM-EX1HG (efficiency theme with long battery life and pop-up eject — 1994), WM-WE01 (wireless theme with cordless remote control and cordless earphones — 1999). However, cassette Walkman innovation would come to an end as during its 25th Anniversary, Sony chose to not introduce another limited run cassette model but instead, brought out the hard disk based NW-HD1 in 2004 to officially augur the death of the compact cassette. (Sony did release two anniversary models in 2003, but they were MiniDisc players — see below.) The last play-only cassette Walkman to be introduced (in North America, at least) was the WM-FX290, first sold in 2002, which also featured digital tuning, AM, FM, TV and weather band radio, operating on a single AA battery. In Canada, at least (where, like all portable radios distributed in that country, the WM-FX290 lacked access to TV and weather bands) this device appears to have ceased production as of May, 2006. In August 2006, Sony Canada began selling cassette Walkmans again, but this time they were only offering a basic model, the WM-FX197.
In spite of the decline of the cassette-based Walkmans, logically operated deluxe models (WM-GX788 etc.) are still sold in a very few countries, especially in South Korea and Japan. These models still support a so-called gumstick-type rechargeable battery, offer relatively better sound quality than cheaper models do, and have an automatic tape position selector and auto-reverse function.
In 1979, Sony began selling the popular Walkman, 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 settlement grants Pavel the recognition from Sony that he was the original inventor of the personal stereo; this apparently could only be achieved after the death of Akio Morita, the founder of Sony and its previously recognised creator.
In 2008, music group Sleep Good released an album on cassette titled "Jungle Box" which included a Walkman in replacement for a cover.
Later Discman models featured ESP (Electronic Skip Protection), which pre-read the music from the CD into on-board memory and formed a type of buffer to prevent the CD skipping when the player was moved. The technology was since renamed 'G-Protection' and features a larger memory area, providing additional protection against skipping.
For years, the Discman and MD Walkman were successes in the marketplace. However, newer technologies, such as flash memory and hard drive-based digital audio players have caused the CD- and MD-based Walkman to lose popularity.
Sony still makes CD Walkmans — the newer models are capable of playing ATRAC3, ATRAC3plus, and MP3 CDs, and have become progressively thinner and more compact with each revision.
Initially the MiniDisc was comparable to a miniaturised CD, capable of storing up to 74 minutes of near CD-quality audio on a disc roughly two-thirds the size of a CD. Today MiniDiscs can hold music as well as data files, with the ability to record and reproduce audio in CD-quality (without ATRAC lossy compression).
MiniDiscs come in a plastic caddy protecting the disc's surface from dust and scratches. MiniDisc Walkmans are able to play and record MiniDiscs from digital and analogue sources, such as live audio from their microphone inputs. The first unit on the market, the MZ-1 was relatively large and unpocketable, but following model, MZ-R2, and subsequent MD Walkmans are quite compact, with today's MiniDisc Walkmans not much larger than the discs themselves.
Gradual improvements were made to MiniDisc Walkmans through the years. The addition of MDLP (MiniDisc LongPlay) codec allowed up to 4 times the amount of music to be stored on one MiniDisc, at the sacrifice of some sound quality. NetMD followed. In 2004, Hi-MD was introduced, enabling computer files as well as CD-quality audio to be recorded on the discs for the first time. By 2005, Sony had relaxed the restrictions in its SonicStage software to allow unrestricted digital transfers to and from Hi-MD and the computer.
The MZ-N10 was released in 2002. It was Sony's '10th Anniversary' product, released 10 years after the introduction of the MiniDisc format in 1992. The case was made from a magnesium alloy, and the unit featured a built-in lithium-ion battery which provided 24 hours of battery life. The MZ-N10 allowed music to be transferred from a PC at up to 64 times actual playback speed, not including the time required for audio re-encoding. It was also the first MD Walkman to incorporate the ATRAC DSP TYPE S codec, and is today (2006) the lightest recording MD Walkman ever produced. The accompanying 10th anniversary playback-only MiniDisc Walkman, the MZ-E10, was released. It is the lightest MD Walkman ever produced, weighing 55 g (including built-in rechargeable battery) with a thickness of 9.9 mm.
Unlike NetMD, Hi-MD Walkmans allow two-way digital transfers to and from PCs virtually unrestricted. Hi-MD also allows the option to record and transfer audio in lossless linear PCM on standard MiniDiscs and Hi-MD discs. This offers sound quality equal to CD (as opposed to lossy ATRAC codecs used on standard MiniDisc/ NetMD).
Hi-MD Walkmans introduced from 2005 onwards allow direct playback of MP3s without the need to transcode the MP3s to ATRAC format. However, SonicStage is required for transfer and encryption onto the disc itself. Playable audio cannot be transferred to the devices without SonicStage.
Unfortunately, the NW-HD5 was shipped with a cosmetic design flaw which meant that the buttons developed small visible cracks under their plastic coating. Although this did not affect functionality, many customers complained. Sony United Kingdom Limited allowed owners to send the units back to be re-fitted with slightly more raised, un-cracking buttons. Perhaps because of this problem, the NW-HD5 was on the market for a very short time before being pulled in preparation for the next model.
In January 2006, the NW-HD5 became unavailable as a normal purchase from retail electronics stores and was relegated to online auction sites and used-electronics warehouses as a consumer item. Eventually the whole of the Network Walkman line would be discontinued for Sony's new solution.
Some hardware changes include the exclusion of stick remote control and the usage of new connector for charging, accesories and data transfering. Start with the NW-S series, those Walkman use Sony new proprietary port called WM-PORT and it's a USB 2.0 compliant 22 pin connector. Another notable hardware changes is the usage of color screen which can display album art. These series also use new power management feature which make it capable to use up to 3 hours by only 3 minutes charging.
Note : NW-A series still use the previous connector and still can use stick remote control.
The NW-A series Walkman is a digital music player available in 6 (NW-A1000), 8 (NW-A1200) and 20 gigabyte (NW-A3000) versions and features an EL-technology screen. Battery life can reach 20 and 35 hours respectively. The player supports ATRAC3, MP3, WMA and from firmware version 3.00 it also supports AAC.
The primary way of putting music on this device is to use Sony software: SonicStage and Connect Player (now withdrawn due to too many problems). The software only works on Microsoft Windows. Other common platforms such as Mac OS and Linux are not supported. SonicStage has received a lot of criticism. It is only possible to move tracks from the music player to the PC hard drive, and thereby from one music player to another, if each device/computer is "authorized" to the user's account with the Connect Store for their country. Users from countries that do not have the Connect Store service are currently limited to one device/computer.
There are a number of features to select music according to a variety of criteria. The "Artist link" function prompts the Walkman to search, find and display similar artists in that genre. There are two new shuffle modes. By selecting "My Favourite Shuffle", the device automatically selects the 100 most listened to songs and plays them at random. The "Time Machine Shuffle" function randomly selects a year and plays all of the songs from that particular year currently held on the device. A recent firmware update (V3.00) added the "Artist Link Shuffle" function to the list of Intelligent Shuffle modes, along with a clock and calendar.
Symphonic is an open-source platform-independent alternative to Sony software that supports Network Walkmans.
The Sony "NW-S700" series is the first flash-based Network Walkman with built-in Active noise control technology. It blocks surrounding noise with integrating mic in its EX-earphone. This player is one of only a few other DAPs that have a noise cancellation feature at this size. The earphone has a proprietary design specifically made for this player, thus making it impossible to plug-in to other DAPs, even the ones that come from Sony. This Walkman has a small OLED screen capable displaying album art and some text information about the song and the player features. The S700 comes in 1 GB(NW-S703), 2 GB(NW-S705), and 4 GB(NW-S706) capacities; some countries sell the 2 GB and 1 GB models only. Selected models are also equipped with a Stereo FM Tuner.
Asia, New Zealand, and Canada also have the Walkman NW-E010: a small USB flash player. Weighing only 23 g, the NW-E010 is available in capacities from 1 to 4 GB and comes in five colors: pink, violet, teal, black, and gold. Its features include a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, built-in FM tuner, a three-line color OLED display, calendar and time function, and Clear Stereo and Clear Bass technologies to enhance the audio quality. Available accessories include lanyards, armbands, an A/C adapter, metallic cases and silicone cases. A release date and pricing for the NW-E010 in Europe and the United States are also unknown.
Walkman Video MP3 Player combine the music playback capability of current Walkman MP3 Player line with video. Sony decided to choose Memory Stick Video format (which actually is H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format) as standard for Walkman MP3 Video Player.
To further extends MP3 support, Sony try to phased out ATRAC format. In late August 2007, Sony released an email to customers of its Online Music Store (Connect) that stated that Sony will shut down the service and begin to phase out the ATRAC codec on any future rendition of the Walkman portable device The email stated that Sony will now adopt a Windows Media format; this plan has been estimated to be completed by March 2008. This move will affect customers and their Walkmans in the North American and European regions. This transition away from the ATRAC codec is to allow the Walkman line to be adopted by more potential customers and their specific and unique preferences on online music services.
The product affected with this transition is NW-A8XX Series, which actually release two times, the version with ATRAC and the one without.
It is available in 2 GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB capacities. The interface is similar to that of a mobile phone. The screen is a 2.0 inch QVGA (240x320) colour LCD and can be used either horizontally or vertically. The Lithium-ion rechargeable battery can last up to 30 hours for music and 8 hours for video.
This player is an ATRAC Audio Device which relies on Sonicstage to manage music. For photo and video management it use Sony's Image Converter.
The Sony NWZ-A826 is one of many MP3 players belonging to the Walkman A-series. This edition features 4GB flash memory, as well as a large and particularly clear 2.4 inch monitor; in additon the MP3 player offers several audio novelties, and all of this in a housing with a thickness of a mere 9.3 mm. The EX earplugs complete the package nicely and make it extremely attractive.•As you may expect from Sony; the music quality is excellent. An extremely clear sound that really proves the best with the aid of the special EX headset. The sound, even without settings, sounds bright and vivid and especially the bass proves exactly right. Furthermore, you have 4 audio technologies at your disposal: Clear Stereo, Clear Bass, VPT Surround and DSEE Sound Enhancer.The ear plugs look rather odd, they are a combination of earplugs and a normal earset in one. They do seal off the ear well and they clearly reproduce the sound. However, when you are outdoors in a somewhat noisy environment, you have to turn the volume up to 8 or higher, otherwise the earset works as earplugs normally do and the sound will be somewhat muffled.
The NW-A919, a 16GB video walkman with a digital '1seg' TV tuner. The player has a touch screen, measures 47.2mm×86.0mm×12.3mm and will be available in black or silver. It will be released in Japan in November 2007.
Contrary to most Walkman line, Sony Ericsson Walkman Phones do not support, and hence cannot play, Sony's proprietary audio format, ATRAC (with all of its variants, except certain Japanese model supporting ATRAC). Walkman phones do support AAC as well as MP3.
The W800 and W550/W600 have numerous audio capabilities including playlists, audio equalisation, support for the M4A audio file format, and the ability to operate only as music player, with the telephony electronics switched off. It also includes standard mobile phone features, such as a 2 megapixel auto-focus camera. The W550/W600 will have 256 MB of internal memory, while the W800 includes a 512 MB Memory Stick.
The W810 is an EDGE-enabled Quad band telephone launched in response to demand for a black coloured Walkman Phone. Other than minor changes in the software and hardware, most of the features are similar to those of the W800.
Sony Ericsson also launched the W900 (considered the successor of S700) which in addition to the audio and camera capabilities of W800, also features 3G video calling and streaming, better video recording (30 frames a second), a larger display, and 470 MB of internal memory which can be expanded up to 2 GB. Music can be imported from a variety of sources, either via the wireless service provider or from a personal computer.
Sony Ericsson president Miles Flint, claiming to have sold over three million Walkman phones, introduced their sixth Walkman branded phone, the W950, at the 3GSM Congress in 2006. The W950i is a slim device with 4 GB internal flash memory, including a touch screen for navigation through music genres, playlists, individual songs or music albums. It is also the first Symbian OS-based Walkman phone to be introduced.
In 2006, Sony Ericsson announced yet another Walkman phone, the W300. It is the first Walkman phone in the series in a "flip phone" form factor. The W300 is also the first Walkman Phone to support Memory Stick Micro and features a VGA camera. They also launched their 8th Walkman telephone, the W700. It is essentially a stripped-down version of the W800 with a different case colour, and includes a 256 MB Memory Stick. The other major change is the absence of Auto-focus in the onboard camera.
In February 2007, the W880 was announced and released. It features a design which is only 9.4 mm thick and a full metal face plate. Being one of the smallest phones on the market, it has proved very popular.
In November 2007, the W890 was announced and was released in February 2008. It was a great hit. Following the former model in the series the W880, the W890 had a lot more enhanced features. Its built-in camera was upgraded to 3.2 MP from 2 MP. An FM radio was introduced in it. It featured 3.5G tech which increased the connection speed from 384 kbit/s in the W880 to 3.6 Mbit/s in this phone. Both the internal and package included external memory were doubled. Its talk time increased from 6.5 hr to 9.5 hr and the music play time reached 20 hrs. A worth mention thing is that inspite all the upgraded features its thickness was enlarged by just 0.5 mm. So it gained great attention specially from those who owned the w880 or had a chance to interfere with it.
The popularity of Walkman-branded telephones may be an indication that the portable audio and mobile telephone markets are beginning to converge. Walkman phones are equipped with applications such as Track ID, PlayNow and M-BUZZ and as of June 2007 Sony Ericsson claims to have sold over 26.5 million Walkman phones since the launch in September 2005. Sony Ericsson is seen to have had the most success with converging music and mobile phones, largely attributed to the Walkman heritage and expertise from Sony.