Remember hissing while you walked?

June 30, 2009

It’s 30 years since we were first able to get onto a bus and annoy everyone else on it.
I’ve just read a great article on the BBC website where they gave a 13-year old boy an original tape Walkman and asked him to see what he thought of it.

Music on the go

Music on the go

Looking back now at the Walkman it seems so large and cumbersome. There were a great many problems that we just saw as a challenge. The battery that seemed to last for very little time. No shuffle function. If you wanted to listen to another tune you had to fast forward (the initial Walkmans didn’t have a rewind function). And that really killed your battery. So we’d all use a Bic biro and spin the cassette until we got the spool rewound/forward to the song we wanted. Even auto reverse (where the tape flipped to the other side by itself) was an optional extra for quite a while. And then there was the issue of taking more than one tape with you.
Nowadays iPods mean that we can take a month’s worth of music with us in our pockets.
See how today’s 13-year old coped with what seems like ancient history to him by clicking here.

He had a fair go at understanding just what a Walkman offers. Unfortunately there were a couple of minor issues. Like the fact he thought the ‘Metal/Normal’ switch was a genre-specific equaliser. Oops. And it took him 3 days to realise that there was a second side of music if he turned the tape over.
However the best thing about Walkmans was that they made everyone into an early DJ. Remember getting mix tapes from your mates?

The old-school way to show you know your tunes

The old-school way to show you know your tunes

I know that nowadays people can share music very quickly and easily. I preferred it when a little more effort went into the music. Even on scorching hot days where the tape itself would start to warp, adding an extra dimension to your mix. Get your hands on a Walkman if you can. Retro – it’s the way forward.

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