To be released soon




The one who started it all...

Housing: Metallic
Color and finish: Blue & Silver
Tape transport: Mechanic
Remote control:
Auto reverse:
Battery: AA x2
Ext. compartment:
Volume limiter:
Blank skip:
Case: Plastic
Price: 1979: $200
2011: $50-$400
Availability: Scarse
Others: Two headphones output. Hotline function.
Bass boost:
Sound processor:
Noise reduction:
Head: Standard
Freq. response: ¿?

device, which derived to the actual flash player.

Text copied from the Wikipedia:

The metal-cased blue-and-silver Walkman TPS-L2, the world's first low-cost portable stereo, went on sale in Japan on July 1, 1979. In June 1980, it was introduced in the U.S. In the UK, it came with stereo playback and two mini headphone jacks, permitting two people to listen at the same time (though it came with only one pair of MDR-3L2 headphones). Where the Pressman had the recording button, the TPS-L2 had a "hotline" button which activated a small built-in microphone, partially overriding the sound from the cassette, and allowing one user to talk to the other over the music. Originally marketed as the "Soundabout" in the U.S., the "Stowaway" in the U.K., and the "Freestyle" in Sweden, SONY soon had the new name "Walkman" embossed into the metal tape cover of the device. When the follow-up model, "Walkman II" came out, the "hotline" button was phased out.

The TPS-L2 was created by Akio Morita, Masaru Ibuka (the co-founders of SONY) and Kozo Ohsone.

Text copied from LowEndMac: (images added by me)

There were some cassette recorders available at the time, although they were not designed for the general public. SONY called theirs Pressman and marketed it exclusively to reporters. These recorders lacked stereo sound and were very expensive. They also used (typically) microcassettes, which had no support from record companies (and were expensive to boot).

With the limited choices presented to consumers, the most popular cassette tape players were either home stereos or car players.

SONY Enters the Market

SONY's first stab at the personal tape player market came in 1978, with the TC-D5. It had excellent quality sound (surpassing most HI-FI decks) and was easy to operate. Unfortunately for most potential customers, the price was around $1,000 (¥300,000), and it was hardly portable.

One regular user was Ibuka, then SONY's honorary chairman. He used the player on airplane trips, but he found the player too heavy for everyday use. He instructed the tape recorder division to create a smaller version for his personal use.

The division, led by Kozo Ohsone, modified a Pressman to do the job. They removed the record function and added stereophonic sound.

Ibuka was immediately impressed and suggested that they bring a similar item to market.

Kozo Ohsone, SONY co-founder.

By 1979, SONY's tape recorder division was flagging. There was little demand for their high-end products, while products from competing lines succeeded (boom boxes, etc.). In February, 1979, Morita, the company's chairman, encouraged the engineers to develop a player similar to the one they had developed for Ibuka. But this one had to cost less than ¥40,000 yet provide the same sound quality. He wanted the product by June 21, 1979.

Though he was skeptical that the division could create a player so quickly, Kozo Ohsone was eager to avoid having the division consolidated into another division (SONY was going through a reorganization at the time) and quickly designed a portable tape player based on Ibuka's modified Pressman player. They used lower end components to bring the price down and encased it in a small, stylish enclosure.

The Right Name

There was a problem: the device didn't have a name. Ohsone suggested that they use the name "Walkman", a play on the Pressman, but the company's leadership was skeptical. The name sounded like a straight Japanese translation, and they feared it would not catch on in the US and Europe. Several other names were suggested. Walky was the most popular, but none were as memorable as Walkman, so the name stayed.

The first WALKMAN logo.

Morita was worried that the device wouldn't appeal to the young or active because of the headphones. They were far larger than the player (they weighed more than 400 grams) and were more like earmuffs than today's headphones.

Three years before, SONY engineers in another division had designed a lightweight pair of headphones. They eliminated the large, enclosed earpiece and in its place put soft foam. Ueyema decided that he could make the Walkman more of a personal player by including these smaller headphones. A listener could now use a tape player while in motion without disturbing those around him or her. The new headphones weighed around 50 grams.


Enter the Walkman

On June 21, 1979 the Walkman was announced to the public. Before the new player was available to the public, the press lampooned it. Some claimed that nobody would be interested in a tape player without a record function. Others pointed out that the most popular tape recorder of the time had sold less than 15,000 units, and SONY had produced 30,000.

The company was unfazed by such criticism and pushed on with promotion. SONY distributed the player to young people and celebrities around Japan, generating demand.

To promote the device amongst younger Japanese, SONY hired young people to walk through the Ginza, offering passersby to listen to the Walkman's excellent audio quality. Instead of having a conventional introduction to the press, SONY arranged a bus tour with actors throughout Tokyo posing with the Walkman while the reporters listened to a recorded tour.

World's first Walkman Ad in the history. Only seen in Japan.

A month after the Walkman became available in Japanese stores, it was sold out. The device was popular amongst all consumers, not just those under 20. SONY had succeeded at creating a personal audio player, and it prepared to launch the product in Europe and North America.

Earlier apprehensions about the name reappeared, and the marketing department decided to rename the product Freestyle in Sweden, Storaway in the UK, and Soundabout in the US. However, during a visit to SONY employees in Paris, Morita was asked by employee's children when they could get their Walkman, and the Japanese name stuck.

After some time, SONY changed the original logo to the actual one and made a 2nd generation TPS-L2, with the new logo.
From left to right: TCM-600, original TPS-L2 and 2nd generation.
Photo: Eric Wrobbel, used with permission.

In ten years SONY sold 50 million units, and competitors had sold countless knockoffs. The term "Walkman" even entered our language, used to describe any cassette player, and it's listed as such in the Oxford English Dictionary.


This model is very special, as it started the whole story about walkmans. Even that SONY didn't invented the walkman (it was an original idea of Andreas Pavel, who invented the "StereoBelt", the very first portable player ever), this player represent the start of a very sucessful history and it can be considered, for practical reasons, the first stereo portable player. Compared with 90's top of the line models, it's old fashioned, bulky and very low featured, but even that, it's a beautiful and very well made unit.

Overall score
Sound quality* Still not rated.
Sound w/Dolby -
Equalization -
Build quality

*: Without Dolby and without any ecualization or sound processing.

For rating the sound quality, we use a pair of high quality Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones, and a test tape (Maxell XL-II) with a high quality recording made with a SONY D6C portable deck. However, this is a personal opinion and it's not intended to be a precision rating.

Before rating this model, it was taken to a professional technician for examine, repair and fine adjusting. Remember these are old machines and internal belts stops working properly after some time. Of course, head and rollers have been carefully cleaned before testing.


The TPS-L2 in it's case. The case Open view. Operation buttons
Outputs and Hot line button. Back view. Original headphones. Foam has disintegrated with time. Original box. It's funny to see that old looking style.
Opened box.      


There are some licensed models, but they came some years later.


AMS Automatic Music Search
AVLS Auto Volume Limiter System
DBB Dynamic Bass Boost
DD Disc Drive
DOL Dynamic Optimum Loudness
EX DBB Extended DBB