On July 1, 1979, Sony Corp. introduced the Sony Walkman – the first true portable music player. The 400g portable cassette player had chunky buttons, a second headphone jack (so that two people could listen in at once) and a leather case.
Masaru Ibuka, Sony’s co-founder, travelled often for business and asked Norio Ohga, then Executive Deputy President to design a playback-only stereo cassette player optimised for use with headphones only. Ibuka presented the result to Chairman Akio Morita and reportedly said, “Try this. Don’t you think a stereo cassette player that you can listen to while walking around is a good idea?” And so the Walkman was born…
Sony initially predicted sales of 5,000 units a month, but the Walkman sold upwards of 50,000 in the first two months. Between 1987 and 1997 — the height of the Walkman’s popularity — the number of people who said they walked for exercise increased by 30%.