Sony have announced the end for one of its trademark inventions, the oh-so portable personal Walkman which ensured that we shall have music wherever we go.
Two hundred million sales later, the machine has been rendered obsolescent and consigned to the Sony museum. Some may feel regreat at its passing. I, who tried out protoype models some 30 years ago, am happy to see it go without a sniff of regret – as I shall explain on the BBC World Service tonight.
The Walkman, I once wrote, turned music from a social pursuit to an anti-social activity. It promoted autism and isolation with consequences yet untold.
The iPod, on the other hand, is about sharing. You are more likely to hand your iPod to a friend, or take one earpiece each to hear a track, than ever you would with a Walkman. It presents music in a jumble that is uniquely yours. The iPod is my music, a reflection of who I am. The Walkman was aways theirs.