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Home / Features / Random Access Memories: Sony TPS-L2 Walkman (1979)

Random Access Memories: Sony TPS-L2 Walkman (1979)

Snap, crackle, cassette


Oh, the original Walkman! Ancient music tech with all the charm of a brick – and the heft of one.

Listen, when you can suck all of music history from the cloud into a svelte blower, there’s a chance you’ve been spoilt. But Sony’s chunky delight was a genuine slice of wonder 40 years ago. Finally, you could take your own music anywhere, without the inconvenience of trailing a massive extension lead behind you and trying to balance a record player on your bonce while carrying an amp and speakers. Not that Stuff ever tried that, obviously. Well, certainly not more than once.

But the Walkman wasn’t that much more portable. And it didn’t even have a belt clip.

No, presumably on the basis that the weight would’ve pulled down your trousers – though brave souls did try with subsequent plastic contraptions. The original, though, had a swish carrying case with a shoulder strap. Various models of Walkman also integrated the strap directly into the unit. This was handy for carting one about – but also for giving you the means to swing the thing around like a mace and give someone a swift crack about the head if they dared ridicule the genius mix you’d committed to your C90.

Oh yes, casssette – the music medium from hell. Who’ d celebrate that abomination?

You might if you fully appreciated music as an art form. Great skill and patience were required to fashion the perfect mix tape. You’d listen to it again and again, each time finding something new, rather than flitting between 30 million albums like a glutton at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

As for celebrating, haven’t you heard? Cassettes are back! (Blame hipsters.) And the TPS-L2 has even been infused into mainstream media thanks to Peter Quill’s exploits in Guardians of the Galaxy. Perhaps life really does begin at 40.

Profile image of Craig Grannell Craig Grannell Contributor


I’m a regular contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv, covering apps, games, Apple kit, Android, Lego, retro gaming and other interesting oddities. I also pen opinion pieces when the editor lets me, getting all serious about accessibility and predicting when sentient AI smart cookware will take over the world, in a terrifying mix of Bake Off and Terminator.

Areas of expertise

Mobile apps and games, Macs, iOS and tvOS devices, Android, retro games, crowdfunding, design, how to fight off an enraged smart saucepan with a massive stick.

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