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Sony Walkman isn't dead — yet

The electronics maker is dropping the 30-year-old trend-setting cassette player in Japan. For now, it's still available in the U.S.

October 26, 2010|By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times

Reports of the death of the Sony Walkman, which more than 30 years ago revolutionized the way people listened to music, are premature.

For now.

Widely circulated rumors of the demise of the original-style Walkman player, which uses cassette tapes, seem to have stemmed from two words on the Japanese Sony Corp. site for the device. It said, "Production finished."

But as it turns out, that meant only that the player would no longer be sold in its home country of Japan, according to a Sony spokesman who didn't want to be named because he was not authorized to speak on this matter.

He said he could not comment at all on why sales of the hand-held device, which took the world by storm starting in 1979, were being halted in Japan. However, the cassette-playing Walkman, he said, will continue to be available elsewhere, including in the United States.

It might come as a surprise to many that the original-style Walkman is still available, given that cassette players were long ago surpassed by digital devices that play music from CDs and MP3 files. Sony continues to use the Walkman name for its lineup of digital devices.

The only model of the old-style player currently being sold in the U.S. is the Walkman Weather Radio/Cassette Player, which features access to National Weather Service broadcasts.

The Sony site promoting the device, which sells for $29.99, says the player can be used to "enjoy your old cassette collection."

The spokesman said there was "a consistent but small demand" for the player. He said there were no plans to cut it from the U.S. market.

shan.li@latimes.com

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