Design Icon

Design Icon: Sony Walkman

by Maxwell Tielman


Design: Sony Walkman

Date: 1979

Designer: Nobutoshi Kihara (1926-2011)

Country of Origin: Japan

Background: Although contemporary people might associate Apple’s iPod with the revolution of portable music, one need look over twenty years earlier for its true origins: The Sony Walkman. Portable music had been available for some time prior to the Walkman’s release, but never in such a distilled, easy-to-use, minimally-designed package—something that literally put music in the palm of your hand. With nary a superfluous design element in sight, the Walkman was a beautiful amalgam of form and function. Barely larger than the cassette tapes it held, the original Walkman featured a precise layout and elegant lines—a surprisingly high-end look for a mass-market product. (Check out this fabulous deep-look at the Walkman on the Minimally Minimal blog.)

Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg.

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