Discman was the nickname given to Sony's first portable CD player, the D-50, which was the first on the market in 1983, and adopted for Sony's entire portable CD player line. In Japan, all Discman products are referred to as "CD Walkman" and the name was adopted worldwide in 2000 along with a redesigned "Walkman" logo.

Prior to release

Prior to the development of the CD, cassette tapes were the dominant form of audio storage. In 1979, Sony had revolutionized the way in which music could be enjoyed with the introduction of the first portable music player, the Walkman. With this portable unit, music was able to accompany a person anywhere he/she went. Gone were the restrictions of a stationary player. The Walkman became part of culture and even part of fashion. As Sony began to realize the potential of the CD, Executives pushed for a means to give the CD player market momentum, moving it from audio enthusiasts to the mainstream.


Building on the design of the CDP-101, a CD player, Sony worked towards both improving the design of the player, reducing the power and number of parts needed while decreasing the overall size of the player, as well as reducing the cost of the player to a 50 000 - 60 000 yen range in what was called the "CD CD Project", which stood for Compact Disc Cost Down Project. With the ability to produce a CD player one-tenth the size of its first unit by August 1983, there became potential for a portable player.

The original goal was to create a player that was the equivalent size of four CD cases stacked on top of each other. A piece of wood 13.4 cm across and about 4 cm thick was shown to the staff to illustrate the physical dimensions for which they were aiming.


The D-50 was released in November 1984, marking the two-year anniversary since the CD was first mass produced. Though it was only double the width of a single CD case, the unit offered the same functionality as the CDP-101, but came without a remote and the repeat functionality of the unit. The D-50 retailed for only 49,800 yen, approximately half the cost price of the unit. The unit successfully sparked public interest in CDs, boosting their popularity, and within a year and a half the D-50 became profitable.

Because of its portable nature and similarity to the Walkman, the nickname 'Discman' was given to the D-50. This name has been used to refer to any Sony portable CD player. However, Sony has since changed the name to CD Walkman.


The release of the D-50 sparked public interest in CDs as an audio format and in the audio industry in general. A portable CD market was created and the price of competing CD players from other manufacturers dropped. The CD industry experienced sudden growth with the number of CD titles available dramatically increasing.


While CDs still remain a very popular audio medium, portable CD players have seen competition from other forms of portable audio storage. MiniDisc players, flash memory players and audio devices with their own internal storage, offer listeners alternatives to portable CD players. However, the ability to read MP3 CDs has allowed CD players to continue to compete against these alternatives, although CDs are bulkier.


External links

  • Walkman Central - Reference site containing details and pictures of various Discman and Walkman models.

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