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Song of the Day for July 1: "Wired for Sound" about the Sony Walkman

The Walkman Appreciation
In this July 2009 File photo, Sony Corp.'s first Walkman is shown at a special display commemorating the Walkman's 30th anniversary at the Sony Archive building in Tokyo, Japan. The Walkman, the Sony cassette device that forever changed music listening before becoming outdated by digital MP3 players and iPods, has died. It was 31 years old. Sony announced Monday that it had ceased production of the cassette tape Walkman in Japan, effectively sounding the death knell of the once iconic, now obsolete device. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

Before ear buds, before the iPod and before mp3 players there was the Sony Walkman. The portable cassette player, responsible for changing the way people listened to music, was first sold July 1, 1979.

A generation of music lovers no longer had to lug around a boom box to play music. Instead, they had a sleek little cassette player with a headset they could wear almost anywhere. Sony’s co-founder Masaru Ibuka directed engineers to come up with a smaller cassette player he could use to play his opera tapes. The result changed music.

The Walkman dominated the 1980s. Sony owned 50 percent of the U.S. market and sold 100 million Walkman by the end of 1989. Sony would sell 200 million of the portable cassette players by the time the company stopped production in 2010. The Walkman became the generic name for portable cassette players. It even made it into the dictionary. The Walkman lost out to mp3 players and the iPod, which lost out to ear buds and streaming. Technology marches on.

BA Robertson and Alan Tarney wrote the Song of the Day, “Wired for Sound,” about the Walkman in 1981. English singer Cliff Richards recorded it. Even though the Walkman was popular in the United States the song wasn’t. It only reached 71 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was much more successful elsewhere, reaching number two in Australia and South Africa, and number four in England.

Fridays are when we enjoy a new weekly series that's part history, part trivia, and ALL music. The series features selections from former News-Press editor Sheldon Zoldan's '"Song of the Day." The initiative began as a daily lockdown project on Facebook at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, through which Zoldan highlights how every aspect of life has a connection through music.