Walking With the Man: My History With the Walkman

I thought about the Walkman the other day – the very first Walkman – which, granted is analog thinking in a digital world.

When the very first Sony Walkman was launched on July 1, 1979, for the younger ones among us (I am showing my age I know), this was almost the great-grandfather of the Apple iPod, since, according to the patent application it was described as a "small body-bound system for the high-quality audio playback," this already seemed to me to be the perfection of all my technical desires and dreams, but my horizons were relatively narrow then. Hey, I was just turning ten.

Overjoyed to finally be able to listen to music at every opportunity the way I wanted to, I put the boom box in the corner and felt, technically speaking, that I was a forerunner when it came to listening to music.

The first Walkman even had a feature where you could use two headphones and it had a "hotline" switch, which when pressed, activated a microphone and lowered the volume to enable those listening to have a conversation without removing their headphones. The Sony Chairman at the time Akio Morita added these features to the device because he feared the technology would be isolating. Though he later stated he "thought it would be considered rude for one person to be listening to his music in isolation," people bought their own units rather than share and these features were removed for later models.

Walkman was replaced by the Discman just as the record player gave way to the CD player, which and pushed the first misshapen mobile phones (far from smart at that time) on the market in the 80s. I always had a compassionate look for anyone who didn't want to understand what ingenious possibilities these unusual devices offered and couldn't cope. I devoured what felt like complicated instructions, tried my hand at all of the the new functions and always came out victorious in the end, in other words, the device did what I wanted him to do and so much more.

But I only needed the phone. For all of my other needs I had other devices better suited.

At some point, I must have just been busy with something else, but I missed the connection hopelessly. Sometime between jumping from the simple cellphone to overkill – high-tech camera organizer phone mini computer, called the smartphone. But since the advancement from the cute Super Mario Nintendo console to Assassin's Creed Unity, with system requirements that NASA did not available for the moon landing of Apollo 11, I suddenly understood what it felt like for someone older when the Walkman was first released.

I am not technology adverse, it is still thrilling when any innovation presents itself for the option for more music, more books, more movies, more shopping, better images and easier communication.

Unfortunately, it's no longer mutual love.

It is not only the devices themselves, but also the programs and applications attempts to encompass every aspect of who I am.

Spotify only speaks in riddles, WordPress is un-wildly and Facebook does what it wants. These, however, are even the more user-friendly candidates. Windows heartlessly continues to ignore all attempts at communication with the printer since I threatened to uninstall it again and my latest Samsung seems to hate me.

Yesterday I lost out trying to personalize the settings for my contacts but somehow set the language to Danish.

The TV broke and customer service could do nothing without sending out a technician. When I was growing up the TV guy was called a repairman. Once again, I felt pretty lost in a digital world that reinvented itself completely every time I even started to understand how it works.

So we decided on a new TV. A new TV with a huge screen that communicates with the network and whose recording function I could not operate without studying a few semesters of electrical engineering.

The Best Buy salesman patiently tried to explain it to me but was only encouraged by my helpless nod which prompted further explanation about the differences between two models, the importance of panel resolution and pixels and, of course, this Ultra HD thing. However, I was skeptical when he pointed at one and said here "this one is ideal for you."

My father always said, "show no weakness." So I gave him my most radiant smile, pointing resolutely at one of the devices: "Thank you for the great technical explanation," I said. "I think I will take this one. Do you know anything about mobile phones? I would have a small problem … "

I was pleased to watch him load the TV into my car an hour later. The model had convinced me because it had an attachment on the console that my cat would love as a place to sleep and because I found the color more appealing than the ideal model. My phone also spoke English again to me. 😉

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