My family traveled a lot. Long car journeys across Europe. My favorite pastime was reading (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? Well, I wrecked my eyes reading that IN the wardrobe). In the car, though, any reading attempt would result in projectile vomiting, which my parents seemed surprisingly adverse to, so that Walkman was a godsend.
The hours would melt away as I sat staring out the window in an auditory trance. Occasionally I’d forget myself and sing (croak) until my little lungs hurt.
I remember painstakingly recording new mix tapes on my parents’ HUGE hi-Fi system, with all its complicated knobs and buttons. I remember carefully labeling them and putting them into boxes, and stacking them up, ready for my next car trip. I think I even acquired a rather embarrassing bum bag (fanny pack?) to carry it all in.
My first walkman lasted a good three to five years. Things were built to last in those days. When I turned 12, I received a discman and my trusty Sony was left to gather dust in a drawer.
The discman, of course, was a short lived fad, followed rapidly by the minidisc which was a complete failure.
It wasn’t until 2001 – a whopping 14 years after the best present ever-- that my world was rocked yet again, this time by the ipod. But that’s another story.
The walkman’s story, however, officially ended when Sony announced last year that it would no longer produce them after 30 years and 200 million copies sold. Not a bad run, all in all. But for me, it will always be the best present I ever opened. Goodbye old friend, and thanks for all the good times.
Cute story, Sylvie! But I have to break this to you: it wasn't the present that was magical, as much as it was your age.
This time of year, I also remember the "best ever" Christmas I had. It was when I was in 3rd Grade, so that's 8 years old. All manner of magical presents:
1. A real record player that worked.
2. A real watch, man size.
3. A large toy version of one of those gray Citroen delivery vans that you see all over Paris, with headlights that really worked. And wind-up motor.
There's a certain optimal age when Christmas was truly magical. I guess for me it was 8 and for you it was 5. I must be slow.
Bert, I was 8 or 9 when I got a chemistry set for Christmas. My family still talks about the outcome. It was only minutes before there was a brown spot on the ceiling and a lot of smoke. I vaguely remember a test tube, heat, tannic acid, and some other stuff. It probably sounded innocent enough but I certainly made a mess.
I think that it impressed me that something had gone wrong and I knew that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I learned a lesson and became a lot more conservative in my experiments and spent at least a little time reading the directions (not to say that everything I did was safe, or even smart). I at least started thinking a bit more. Who knows? Maybe that experience led me towards my eventual MSEE.
Oh, the close calls we engineers can tell stories about ! ! !
Speaking of Enid Blyton' Five tapes, I am glad to inform you that I have written and published a book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (www.thefamousfiveapersonalanecdotage.blogspot.com). Stephen Isabirye
I had a walkman too, they were great things for their time. I also had a similar but bigger thing of dubious Japanese parentage, that had an AM/FM radio in it AND it could record.
I was on a trip to France once and had it with me...I kept hearing a great song on the radio but could't pick up what it was. So I recorded it and went to the nearest record shop (this was in the vinyl days) and said "Je voudrais acheter ce chanson" and they produced and sold me the record. (It was (Sauver L'amour" by Daniel Balavoine who later died in a helicopter crash during a Paris-Dakar Rally). Being able to record was really handy. These days, of course, it's all electronic and no moving parts...but "Walkpersons" (cynical quasi-PC name we gave them) were good things.
Hey David, have fun reminiscing:
(Not to be obnoxious, well, maybe a little, "chanson" is feminine. "Cette chanson.")
Nice song, btw. I'm listening as I type.
Thanks Bert, I replied yesterday but for some reason it didn't get on.
Merci de m'avoir corrigé - no offense taken at all. My French is now a bit rusty and I should check before I write...No one speaks French in Aussie....
And glad you liked the song.
Good story. Last week I was cleaning out a drawer and in it was one sony tape, still in its store-bought packaging. Along with it was my Philips "Walkman equivalent" which I decided to donate to St. Vincent DePaul.
I also have a small collection of music cassettes but haven't listened to them for some time.
Sony's Walkman success was huge, and it is interesting that they sold tapes as well. It might be said that they owned the technology at the time.
Of course the wonderful sound of ABBA is media independent!
The Sony Walkman was, of course, why the inventor of pencils (showing incredible forsight) gave them a hexagonal cross section.
I suspect your cross-channel ferry stopped at Dover or Folkstone, not London!
The best present I have ever received was a Caravelle AM radio transmitter waaaay back in 1961. About 5 years ago I bought a Caravelle on eBay and proudly display it in my office. I was 10 years old but was already bitten by the electronics bug. My dad had helped me build a crystal set and a code practice oscillator but hearing my own voice come out of a radio speaker really sealed the deal! I soon started studying for my ham radio license (I'm still licensed as WB9DYI) and was fortunate enough to attend a high school that had a fine four year electronics program. Even in this day of error-corrected digital communications I still get great satisfaction from digging a weak signal out of back ground noise! In a way I feel sorry for the bright young people of today. I'd scavenge parts from a discarded TV and have a month's worth of projects - there's no real parallel to that experience today.
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