updated 01:35 pm EDT, Wed July 1, 2009
Walkman 30th anniversary
Versions of the Sony Walkman have now been on sale for 30 years, notes Agence France-Presse. The first version of the product went on sale July 1st 1979, based on the sketches of engineer Nobutoshi Kihara, and sold 30,000 units in two months. By 1989 cumulative Walkman sales had exceeded 50 million, and today, numbers are said to be over 385 million. The company has since lost much of its ground to Apple, which has sold over 200 million iPods in eight years.
The Walkman helped to pioneer the cassette tape, which became the dominant portable music format for over a decade. Sony has since been slow to adapt to digital technology, and it initially refused to support the common MP3 standard, hoping to tie listeners to its proprietary ATRAC format instead. An attempt at reviving interest in Walkmen is being made with the X1000 series, which launched in May.
Like Apple's iPod touch, the X1000s come in 16 and 32GB capacities, and are controlled almost exclusively via a touchscreen. Web browsing and YouTube streaming are possible via Wi-Fi; Sony is hoping to trump the Touch through support for Slacker and FM radio, as well as the use of an OLED screen. Noise-canceling earbuds are also included by default.