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Walkman and Discman: the two portable music players from Sony and Philips are back in digital version

Published by SwapRecords on 1/06/2021

The star of the music player is the Sony Walkman, released in 1979. The Walkman was the flagship of the 80s, a symbol of freedom for music fans at the height of the music industry, and was a worldwide success until the Discman appeared in 1984. The CD with its powerful digital sound - which was the result of a collaboration between Philips and Sony, who then shared the royalties - came onto the market and at the same time pused out both the cassette and the vinyl record. After the failure of the DAT cassette and the MiniDisc from Sony and then the DCC cassette from Philips, the cassette and CD players gave way to MP3 players: first Remote Solutions, Creative and Archos in 1999 and then the iPod tsunami from Apple in 2001. More recently, Sony and Philips decided to relaunch their mythical players in hybrid format integrating MP3. SwapRecords presents you their original standard version as well as their revisited digital version. 

The Sony Walkman, the precursor player (1979)

This very first cassette player started a revolution in music listening. Indeed, this pocket-sized cassette player weighing less than 400 grams contrasts with players and amplifiers weighing several kilos, operating with cables, and therefore immovable! On the contrary, the Sony Walkman allows you to carry your music everywhere, on the road, on trips, at your friends' place, at school or at work. A stroke of genius from the engineers of the Japanese firm, during an extremely prolific year for pop-rock music, the year 1979. In terms of figures, more than 220 million portable music players were sold in 40 years!  

Walkman by Sony

The new version of the Sony Walkman

The movie Guardians of the Galaxy released in 2014, revived the audio cassette which gave Sony ideas, looking to ride the wave of this incredible comeback. Sony takes the rectangular design of the Walkman from 1979, with the simplicity of the contours, giving it an 80s look. However, it is not only a cassette player but also an MP3 player, the screen saver giving the impression that a tape is being played. This version 2.0 also has a 16 GB memory and a Bluetooth connection to use a wireless headset! 

  • Battery: 26 hours
  • Price: $540

The Philips Discman, the modern player (1984)

In 1984, just after the commercialization of the CD in December 1982 by Sony and Philips, the Dutch group released its portable CD player, the Discman. The CD is going to be quickly democratized to supplant the cassette and the vinyl records in a few years. The majors and labels will also largely contribute to massively increase the sales of compact discs - otherwise known as optical discs, used to store digital data - whose evolution will then give the MP3 file. As the audio cassette became obsolete, the Discman benefited from a colossal market and took the place of the Walkman in the 80s. Above all, the sound quality was much better, and it was no longer necessary to carry a pencil! 

Discman by Philips

The new version of the Philips Discman

Philips is back with a revisited model of its Discman, allowing, just like the new Walkman, to read MP3 files. A hybrid functioning, and a refined and round design, closer to the one of the 2000s than the first model of 1984. What a pleasure to slide a CD and close the player before pressing the Play button! This new Discman is rather successful, with a brilliant complexion. However, the autonomy remains rather limited compared to MP3 players, smartphones or even the Sony Walkman: only 10 hours of autonomy. Finally, the price is not at all the same. The Philips Discman costs $60, which is almost 10 times less than its Japanese rival.

  • Battery: 10 hours
  • Price: $60

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