Sony Walkman, Dead at 31

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The Sony Walkman's tape deck once reigned supreme in the consumer electronics market as the quintessential music gadget for people on the move. Its affordability and compact size appealed to a diverse cross-section of consumers, and since its inception in 1979, Sony has sold more than 200 million units around the world. But the Japanese electronics giant has pulled the AA batteries out of the Walkman cassette player for good "due to lackluster sales of the outdated music player," according to Leslie Horn of PC Magazine.

The news came as a bit of a shock to us at New Times; record labels like to send us advanced copies of music on cassette-tapes, and the editors promised us we'd be getting new Walkmans at this year's holiday party.

Actually, we're kidding; New Times is a high-tech publication (you're reading this online) and the only thing that surprised us about Sony's decision was the fact they were still mass-producing the old school music device in 2010.

The last cassette we bought was in 1990, and our Walkman ate the tape and ruined A Tribe Called Quest's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. But evidently, there was a strong enough market for Sony to keep the Walkman in production for 30-plus years.

The decision to cease production only affects the Sony Walkman cassette series; Sony will continue to make other, less archaic personal devices like CD and mini disc under the Walkman brand. A Chinese company will use the Walkman name on cassette players likely to be sold throughout the Middle East and Asia, however the devices are not Sony products.

Look for vintage Walkmans to surface again in about two years. That'll be when hipsters will find them ironic enough to wear on the waist of their skinny jeans as fashion accessories. Silly trends.

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