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RETRO TECH: WALKMAN

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– Hi Marques

– Hey, I'm Ryan Nice to meet you – Good to meet you, Ryan – Thank you Good to see you

So in this box is a milestone piece of tech I just want to have you open it and give me your thoughts – Ooh – ( laughs ) – I love these – It's so cool-looking

This is definitely older than me I've never actually seen one of these You want to give it a spin? This is functioning? ( synth rock playing ) That's extremely cool I'm Marques Brownlee and I review dope new tech But on this show, I'm rewinding the clock to discover the tech of the past that changed our lives forever

This is "Retro Tech: Walkman" Hey, what's up, guys? MKBHD here So, spoiler alert, I've never used a Walkman I'm very unfamiliar with it and this will be literally my first time ever seeing it

The first ever portable music player, Sony introduced the TPS-L2 Walkman in 1979 and changed the music game forever I wasn't alive back then In fact, half of people alive now were not alive when the Walkman was introduced Also, this pink text is not an accident It's everywhere

So let's go ahead and get one out the box Paperwork– this has never gone out of style Whoa These are the headphones Flimsy

Very lightweight That just leaves the Walkman itself In a leather case– this is like a little pocketbook Oh, my gosh It's pretty chunky

AA batteries Tactile buttons So that's your fast-forward, your rewind Play/pause Stop

Immensely satisfying You don't get that today So there's only one more thing to do, and that is listen to some music Beastie Boys Oh, I have to struggle with everything, don't I? Nope

I just want to play my tape Ah This little bracket down here? Go ahead and slide it in on that bracket ( music playing ) Whew Wow

These actually don't sound bad ( music continues ) This year is the 40th anniversary of the Walkman, and I want to know how this piece of tech jumpstarted portable music as we know it today ( music stops ) – Hey Marques – Hey, Marques

Americus – Good to meet you – Nice to meet you, too – Wow – All right

So to start off, I'm going to have you check under your seat – Like, right now? – Go ahead – Oh, no – Aah! This is pretty cool Wow

This brings back memories This guy! I have not seen one of these things in I don't even know how long Fits perfect, yeah Wow This is pretty dope, man

Can you take me back to the '70s and what the world of the audio was like before the Walkman existed? Yeah, the world of audio was fun because there was a sort of preference for stuff getting bigger You know, you wanted music to be loud, you wanted it to be booming ( music playing ) ♪ Everybody ♪ Seth: Before Walkmen, music was innately social, blaring into the communal airwaves People carried around boom boxes Boom boxes were the thing

The bigger it was, the cooler you were Man on TV: The radio that's about as big as the Empire State Building and as loud as World War II They were big, and they were cumbersome to carry around It definitely was not the type of device that would fit in your pocket, or even in a backpack So the heads of Sony had an idea, and the idea was let's see if we can make things a bit more mobile, so suddenly smaller becomes better

Lisa: Portable cassette players definitely existed before the Walkman, but they were very different Some of them were the size of VCRs and they had these big chunky buttons But they weren't for listening to music They were for journalists and secretaries So the heads of Sony had an idea

Can you walk me through the origin story of the Walkman? Seth: So the founder of Sony was a huge audiophile He loved opera music And he's taking this old cassette player that's designed for recording notes as a journalist might and using that on the road to listen to his opera music ( opera music playing ) And he finds this thing clunky It's totally impractical

There has to be a better way Lisa: Masaru Ibuka tasked his team to come up with a solution Seth: So they start stripping away components They start stripping away parts All the gears and gadgetry and equipment necessary to record onto a tape? They get rid of that

And what they're left with is a small, sleek, portable device that does basically one thing, but does that one thing really well It lets you listen to music Lisa: And in 1979, the Walkman was born ( opera music ends ) Marques: I wanted to learn even more about the origin of the Walkman, so I got in touch with Toshio Asai, who was an engineer on the original development team for the Walkman at Sony in Tokyo ( speaking Japanese ) ( speaking Japanese ) Marques: The engineers at Sony did such a good job building the Walkman that consumers would keep them even if they broke

Nowadays, if our tech breaks, we bring it in to be fixed But back then, everyone was apparently pretty handy So I've invited my friend Judner, AKA "UrAvgConsumer," to help me out Between the two of us, we have more than enough knowhow to get into this tech – Thanks for joining me today

– Thanks for having me, man We're both YouTube creators We're both tech heads We're both born after the Walkman came out – This is heavy

– Yeah So, what do you know about the Walkman? – I know they use tapes – Mm-hmm But outside of that? Not too much Okay

So, we review a lot of tech When's the last time you actually had to go in and replace or fix something? I don't think I ever have I can't think of any time I have actually had to personally do it So, one of the most common problems with these Walkmen, the bands inside that turn the tapes and make them move ( music playing ) would sometimes stretch or break

( music stops ) So, with the right instructions, can these Walkmen be fixed by your average consumer? – Sounds good – I guess we'll figure that out pretty soon All right, let's jump right in Step one, remove the first set of screws from the side panel – That's simple enough

– Keep these screws safe All right, I've got doors coming off, Oh! Look at the guts of that thing If I had to defuse a bomb and it looked like this? We're all gonna die There are 20 gears in here and a motor That's something you don't see in today's tech

– Oh, there we go – That's your band This is completely snapped As far as my appreciation for old tech right now? I'm not sure if this is making me appreciate it more or less I think I'd appreciate the person who could do this for me

True This brings me back to high school There's the second screw Whew There goes the whole plate

I'm going to get it, though Oh! There we go So this is that big band It's a little stretched out ( light clatter ) That sounded like a screw

Oh, no Anyone have a giant magnet? I think I'm going to have to finish this without that one screw, but I'm going to commandeer some of this extra tape – so that the bracket stays – Oh, okay, MacGyver – You know who MacGyver is? – Yep – Do you really? – Nope

Uh-huh So, replace the big band with this new big band This has got to go right over the top here Boom! First band done Your board is all over the place

Yeah, this is– it's like I'm dissecting a frog here – Oh, man – I did not follow instructions – Whoa – ( light clatter ) No! Was that a screw you just dropped? This is a lot more steps than I was imagining

Control panel back All right, I finally reached the point where I can test to see if I've installed the bands correctly and if that one screw was optional We'll see It's not completely put back together, but if this works, it says a lot about my progress so far, I'm just saying Let me jump in on this to verify

Okay, please work Please work – Play – ( high-pitched whine ) ( whine continues ) As you can see and hear, something about my band isn't quite right Something's– my tape it bro– Oh, no

Oh, it's jammed It is completely jammed up in there You definitely destroyed that tape Whoa Aww, that is a heartbreaker

( sighs ) I feel stumped Dang All right, let's talk about what we learned here today So, this is hard – This is difficult

– Very I guess I just gained a lot of respect for people who actually successfully pulled that off Trying to figure this out with no knowledge prior? It's impossible I'm okay being born in this era Thank you, digital tech

Marques: As much appreciation as I now have for the Walkman after trying to fix one, not everyone appreciated the Walkman when it first came out Seth: People were up in arms over the Walkman They just simply thought it was unsafe They thought if people weren't paying attention, they would get hit by cars There was a lot of backlash

This one of the first times that we saw technology allow you to close off the world Man on TV: Is it the Me Generation gone wild? A height of anti-social behavior? There were all sorts of anti-Walkman rules kind of popping up everywhere The most prominent was in Woodbridge, New Jersey, 1982 The town passes a law that basically bans you from listening to Walkmen while you're crossing streets and doing a bunch of other things We are trying to stop a tragedy before it happens in Woodbridge

To this day, this Walkman ban still stands in New Jersey Having a Walkman wasn't immediately cool This was a novel device People would be staring at you if you wore it So what Sony wanted to do was to try to turn those stares from bad stares to good stares

So the ad campaigns, the marketing campaign, it was all about featuring fun, hip, attractive-looking people using Walkmen in public so that people would think it was an acceptable thing to do Announcer: The tiny stereo cassette player with truly incredible sound Lisa: Sony's early ads showed people dancing out in the streets, and the tagline said, "There's a revolution in the streets" Because it was so new to people People weren't used to the idea of bringing their music around

They probably didn't even realize that they wanted to bring their music around before the Walkman It's like carrying your stereo with you, you know? On your– on your head Sony's idea was we're going to put them in the hands of some of the top people in the industry Lisa: You saw really prominent famous people wearing it It was very similar to what a lot of companies do today, except now it's called influence marketing, and it's mostly done on Instagram

And this worked Eventually, the Walkman became something you wanted to show off But one of the big problems with any piece of portable gear is that you're not social You're kind of isolated from the world around you So, what Sony did is they put his and hers headphone jacks on it so that two people could listen at once

So, suddenly, this solo activity could be a couples' activity You could listen to a song with your friend and share it with them The Walkman also a had a hot line button that when you press it, allowed you to speak to someone else through the device and it lowered the music a little bit, too I left my Walkman headphones at home, but I do have this pair of 2018 headphones We can do some hot line

Let's go ahead and hit play – Okay – ( music playing ) My ears Oh, the mic's up here Can you hear me? – Yeah! Yeah

– Did it work? – This is weird – It lowered my volume and yours That's kind of brilliant ♪ What's love got to do ♪ ♪ Got to do ♪ – It doesn't totally mute it – Yeah

– It just lowers it – It lowers it When headphones are new, when Walkmen are new people tend to talk at a higher volume – when you have headphones on – Definitely

Before the Walkman, stereo was, like, it was cool, but it wasn't this headphone, immersive experience – Right – That's what the Walkman did That's amazing Lisa: Although the Walkman gets a lot of the credit, the headphones that Sony designed really played into the Walkman's success

Before the Walkman came out, headphones were big and they weren't really designed to be carried around with you The Sony Walkman really changed that With the small headphones that the Walkman came with, they reduced the weight by tenfold, making it much easier to carry around with you and wear Alex: So, the Walkman didn't only revolutionize portable audio, it revolutionized the headphone market Marques: I love quality audio and I take my headphones with me everywhere, so I want to experience how headphone technology has evolved over the years

Before the Walkman, headphones were big and clunky So, Sony solved this problem by making lightweight, breathable headphones that ushered in the age of personal headphones since then So, we have some of the best and worst of those with us, and we're going to give them a spin You can't hear exactly what I'm hearing since they're headphones, but we'll give you the same effect So this is Dope Or Nope

Let's get right into it We're going to take it back to before the Walkman– the 1971 Professional Electrostatic Model Float These are huge I don't know what this hole is for Like, a ponytail hole? Who knows? These are the only ones we could find from pre-Walkman days

Wow They don't even stay over my– Um, strong nope Big clunky headphones Moving up to the early 2000s, and it's a neckband style Right behind my neck like that

Let's listen ( music playing ) These are actually a little bit more bass heavy ( music playing ) You can now be that guy walking down the street But the lack of adjustability kind of kills it, so, nope Headphones in general have branched out in a bunch of different purposes

Welcome to 1985 We have Sony's AM/FM radio headphones Big antenna I have at one point in my life seen someone wearing these, and it was a neighbor mowing his lawn So, a new era of portability, and dare I say, truly wireless? Dope

We have on-ear headphones as a sort of expression of personal style ( music playing ) Oh, they sound horrible Pretty sure this button is going to light some stuff up There it is There could be a unicorn fan that really wants headphones like this, and for that person these are probably dope

But for me, the foam is not very soft The sound, as I mentioned, trash Despite the glory of the unicorn horn, nope The way we hear our music was forever changed by the Walkman headphones, but how did that impact the physical medium that contained the music itself? ♪ Keep on rock, keep, keep on rock ♪ Lisa: When the Walkman took off, the cassette tape also took off And three years after the Walkman was released in the United States, cassette tapes sales outsold vinyls for the first time

Alex: The introduction of the blank cassette tape kind of changed everything, whether you were just grabbing music from your personal collection or you were stealing it from the radio This was a way for you to create your own music playlist For the first time, this gave people real control over what they were listening to It wasn't just dictated by whatever was sold in stores The mixtape was a really big part of growing up

It was a big part of high school culture Americus: There was no such thing as sending your Spotify list to your pals You literally were, like, trading off cassettes "Hey, I made this cool mixtape" "Hey, let me give you mine

" If you had a crush, you gave them a mixtape And that was everything you needed to say but were too scared to say But the area where the Walkman had the biggest impact was on exercise Seth: Running, jogging, aerobics, Jazzercise, all these things blowing up at the same time as the Walkman It's like this perfect marriage

Lisa: Sony clearly noticed that people were using the Walkman for exercise, so they launched a sport model in the 1980s Americus: That was actually kind of genius to be able to say this is something that is a natural product market fit, so let's make something specific called the Sports Walkman to be able to tap into that Marques: The Sony Sports Walkman was a must-have, due to the rugged design and durability, but how does it hold up in today's portable music standards? To find out, I'm going to have to run a stress test and see how it functions As some of you may know, in addition to being a tech reviewer, I'm also a professional ultimate frisbee player So I do listen to music while working out all the time

This seemed like a perfect opportunity to test the durability of a Sports Walkman To do that, I brought some friends– the Gregory Brothers Welcome ♪ I'm a fun, I'm a fun, I'm a fun guy ♪ The Gregory Brothers took the internet by storm with their songified versions of the news and viral videos They're savvy musicians, and they know how to throw a frisbee

♪ Don't believe me, just watch ♪ Thanks for being here You guys have also played a little ultimate – Yeah – It's true Not quite at your level

What's been your guys' experience with the Walkman? I had the original Walkman The Walkman, for me, it conjures so many memories That was my first experience with headphones What do you think of this bright yellow? I like it If I'm holding it and exercising, a car will not run over me

So, ideally we can test wearability, playability, durability Do they play without skipping or start to break or pieces fall off? You're in luck, because we have written you a song We tried to write a pump up track and just dubbed it onto a cassette, – and it's called "I'm On Fire" – All right Marques: We've recorded the audio so you guys can hear what I'm hearing through my headphones

Here we go I'm getting really pumped by this song ( upbeat dance music playing ) ♪ I'm on fire ♪ ♪ I'm on fire ♪ ♪ I'm on fire ♪ – This is really heavy I used to think working out with an iPod touch on your arm was huge and clunky This one has a built-in clip

We're going to have to get you some more air time, I think, if we want to jostle this thing enough – Yeah – ♪ You see, I'm actually ♪ ♪ Currently, engulfed in flames ♪ ♪ I'm on fire ♪ – ( thud ) ( music speeds up ) ♪ Fi-i-i-ire ♪ ♪ I'm on fire ♪ – ( thud ) – ( music slurring ) The cassette would, like, speed up a little for a second High notes would get extra high as I land ( music slurring ) ♪ I'm on fire-er-er ♪ ♪ I'm on fire ♪ ♪ What I gotta do to get some water? ♪ ( music slurring ) ♪ I'm on– ♪ – I lost my battery

– Oh, it fell out? – The tape stayed in – Yeah That's really impressive Sorry for the hold up Music's playing already

– All right, let's go – ♪ I'm on fire ♪ ( shouts ) – Ooh, it was in – We're gonna call it – ♪ I'm on fire ♪ – Good catch The clamp force here came undone too easily

Other than that, it did pretty well I feel like we proved the original use case for the Sport Walkman Running, jogging– obviously performed great Yeah, got to give props to certain aspects of the Walkman for holding up better than I thought Thank you, guys, for helping me – test out the Walkman

– Thanks for having us The Gregory Brothers So the Sports Walkman actually held up pretty well, but it was just one example of Sony's effort to appeal to people's unique interests Lisa: They launched different colors They eventually launched a model that also had AM and FM

Americus: By giving consumers enough variation in the product SKUs, that allowed them to say, "I still feel like this product is personal to me even though everyone has one" Marques: Through the mid-1980s and into the early '90s, the Walkman had firmly established itself as a cultural icon, often taking on starring roles in classic movies of the era ♪ Leave it all up to me ♪ Marques: But by the time Sony celebrated the Walkman's tenth anniversary, a new frontier of technology was on the horizon Lisa: Technology always evolves, and the way we listen to music and get music always changes Alex: Once we got towards the middle of the '90s, the medium of a compact disc was able to hold more

The sound was a lot more hi-fi Lisa: As CD players rose in popularity, you kind of saw the appeal of the Walkman start to fade And what really marked the end of the Walkman was, of course, the iPod in 2001 Now you can have your entire music library in your pocket, not just one or two cassettes of your choosing So, it was really digital music that put the nail in the coffin for the Walkman

Can you just give me the legacy of the Walkman? Americus: It's the first time that you saw music really stepping outside of the background and into the forefront as a very central means of self-expression for consumers The Walkman kind of created this notion that technology can be with you all the time Today, we don't leave the house without our phones We spend hundreds of dollars on specialized headphones because we love them and want to wear them all the time The Walkman was so critical in all of that

The Walkman is still seen in pop culture today I mean, think about "Guardians Of The Galaxy," which was a hugely popular movie in the Marvel franchise So, it definitely got a little bit of a revival Seth: If you're listening to a Walkman, or nowadays an iPhone, while you're going about your day, it changes your relationship with the world It makes it much easier to get through the day, whether you're working a job or working out

The Walkman allowed us for the first time to be transported away It changed everything about how music fits into our lives Marques: I've learned a lot from my time with the original Walkman The biggest takeaway for me is just how much this thing paved the way for portable audio as we know it today From the gears inside, to the bands, to the buttons– those amazing clicky buttons, they don't make 'em like they used to

So, thanks to the Walkman, and thank you for watching Catch you guys in the next one Peace

Source: Youtube

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