Exploring Antique Technology A 13-Year-Old Boy Encounters the Sony Walkman

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My dad had
told me it was the iPod of its day.

He had told
me it was big, but I hadn’t realised he meant THAT big. It was the
size of a small book.

When I saw
it for the first time, its colour also struck me. Nowadays gadgets
come in a rainbow of colours but this was only one shade – a bland

So it’s not
exactly the most aesthetically pleasing choice of music player.
If I was browsing in a shop maybe I would have chosen something

From a practical
point of view, the Walkman is rather cumbersome, and it is certainly
not pocket-sized, unless you have large pockets. It comes with a
handy belt clip screwed on to the back, yet the weight of the unit
is enough to haul down a low-slung pair of combats.

When I wore
it walking down the street or going into shops, I got strange looks,
a mixture of surprise and curiosity, that made me a little embarrassed.

As I boarded
the school bus, where I live in Aberdeenshire, I was greeted with
laughter. One boy said: "No-one uses them any more." Another
said: "Groovy." Yet another one quipped: "That would
be hard to lose."

My friends
couldn’t imagine their parents using this monstrous box, but there
was interest in what the thing was and how it worked.

In some classes
in school they let me listen to music and one teacher recognised
it and got nostalgic.

It took me
three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape.
That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal
switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later
I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different
types of cassette.

the rest of the article

15, 2009

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