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When I Was a Kid We Had to Flip Tapes Over...in the Snow...Uphill...Both Ways!

Sports_walkman The BBC invited a 13-year-old to swap his iPod for a Walkman for a week. Miraculously, he survived.

When getting ready to write this post, I was trying to find a picture of the Sports Walkman that my family had when I was a kid, just because I thought it was the best illustration of the idea of electronics for active people in ancient times (read: 20 years ago).

Several things to note when considering my old Walkman: it was bright yellow, which somehow indicated its sportiness; it had this clasp that went over the buttons when you closed it, which I think was supposed to ensure that it was waterproof, but mostly just made a dull and satisfying click; it was heavy and I remember my parents sheepishly reporting that, while it was nice to play tennis or jog while listening to music, it was a little embarrassing to have to keep pulling their pants up; the flashiest features were the battery life light, red LED of glory, the double earphone jacks, and the ability to flip sides of the tape without having to physicall flip it over, though if you forgot that you changed sides that way you might get confused when trying to rewind or fast forward; it belonged to my family, we didn't each have our own because these were so expensive.

Anyway, back to the BBC's experiment. The UK teenager who participated in the experiment wrote about his experiences with the Walkman and had this to say: "I'm relieved that the majority of technological advancement happened before I was born, as I can't imagine having to use such basic equipment every day." Our sacrifices helped to make this kid's life better, guys. This is probably how World War II veterans feel, you know? (I kid.)

But the teen does give the Walkman a very fair shot, nothing that the two headphone jacks are the one advantage that it has over the iPod. But I guess there are better ways to share your music with your friend than making them stand right next to you and plugging their headphones in with yours.

Do you have any Walkman memories?


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I read that article and loved that it took him days to realize there was something on the OTHER SIDE of the tape. Sigh.

I've still got mix tapes - just nothing to play them on.


I totally remember my walkman having that flip over thing without actually flipping over the tape! Yeah, very confusing when I tried to fast forward and it actually rewound because of the no-flip flip. LOL, I wonder if that makes any sense to anyone else!


"I'm relieved that the majority of technological advancement happened before I was born, as I can't imagine having to use such basic equipment every day."

That statement cracked me up. I can only imagine what the kids 20/30 years from now will think about Ipods in comparison to whatever they are using to play music back on. I loved my Walkman. I never had that sport one but I had one that was the size of a cassette and it was slim so it was easy to exercise with it and all that. I was so bummed when it broke. I miss mix tapes (I still have hundreds of cassettes in storage)but I don't miss having to fast forward thru songs I no longer like as opposed to just skipping it on mix CDs now. My car still has a cassette deck so sometimes I'll dig out an old mixtape and play it. :)


Oh the batteries were my downfall. I would always prepare myself for long car rides and camping trips with plenty of AA batteries for my Walkman. But, my stupid brother would always steal them and never brought his own.

The Walkman would be useless by about the third day.


Never had a walkman--WAY too expensive. I love that the device in your photo is not much smaller than my laptop.


That photo instantly triggered the thought - "Hey, that's the waterproof one!" We took it to the beach because of its waterproofedness and listened to the Ghostbusters soundtrack ad infinitum.

I haven't read the BBC story, but in your brief description of the Walkman I also picked up immediately on the double earphone jack as the thing I miss the most.

HOW many tapes full of songs missing the first three seconds because you were trying to tape them off the radio??


My family had the same one! I used to listen to the dirty dancing sound track over and over again on it. Ten years later when I was going on long band trips in high school, I continued to use it. My best friend would set next to me on the bus and use the other plug in. We would take turns playing each other's mix tapes. Many of which were made by taping the radio. We used to sit in our bedrooms and lunge for the record button when a good song came on. Most of our mixtapes were missing the first 5 seconds of the song.
That walkman was way superior to the battery sucking, skipping discman.
Way to bring back the memories...

cindy w

We didn't have the fancy-pants "sports" Walkman, but we had the basic one, which I seem to remember had a little carrying strap, sort of like a purse? And my brother, sister and I each had our own (which we had to save up our allowance to buy) because otherwise we fought over it. We also each had our own copy of "Thriller." Sort of hilarious to think about that now.


Ah...Duran Duran. My beloved Duran Duran. Played infinitely on my no-flip-needed walkman. Sighs... I had many a dirty thought about what I was going to do with John Taylor (the bass player) when he finally realized we were meant to be, and swept me off my adolescent feet.

The Queen of Hyperbole

My Walkman was a knock-off. Made by Sanyo, as I recall. It wasn't sport-yellow, and it didn't have a radio, but it did sound pretty awesome when I loaded it up with "Hey Mickey."

Oh, and I had to flip the tapes myself, because my model came sans the auto-flip feature. Jesus Christ, the horror.


youth. i loved my walkman. my only problem was the chronic problem my house always had with keeping batteries around. "they're so expensive!" even now, we have rechargeables for almost everything (wii, remotes, bike lights) but I still don't have a battery when i need one i feel. but i will just go to the store and buy one. unlike my mom.


I remember my dad and I listening to Guns n Roses, Use your Illusion 2, in the backseat of my great aunt's station wagon, driving to the Ben and Jerry's factory in VT...utilizing the two headphone plugs...I loved that about that walkman. And my dad, almost sheepishly, admitting the album was pretty good. : )

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