On July 1, 1979, Sony Corp. introduced the Sony Walkman TPS-L2, a 14 ounce, blue-and-silver, portable cassette player with chunky buttons, headphones and a leather case. It even had a second earphone jack so that two people could listen in at once. Masaru Ibuka, Sony's co-founder, traveled often for business and would find himself lugging Sony's bulky TC-D5 cassette recorder around to listen to music. He asked Norio Ohga, then Executive Deputy President, to design a playback-only stereo version, optimized for use with headphones. Ibuka brought the result — a compact, high-quality music player — 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?"
All the device needed now was a name. Originally the Walkman was introduced in the U.S. as the "Sound-About" and in the UK as the "Stowaway," but coming up with new, uncopyrighted names in every country it was marketed in proved costly; Sony eventually decided on "Walkman" as a play on the Sony Pressman, a mono cassette recorder the first Walkman prototype was based on. First released in Japan, it was a massive hit: while Sony predicted it would only sell about 5,000 units a month, the Walkman sold upwards of 50,000 in the first two months. Sony wasn't the first company to introduce portable audio: the first-ever portable transistor radio, the index card-sized Regency TR-1, debuted in 1954. But the Walkman's unprecedented combination of portability (it ran on two AA batteries) and privacy (it featured a headphone jack but no external speaker) made it the ideal product for thousands of consumers looking for a compact portable stereo that they could take with them anywhere.
Just as today's generation of young people have no idea what a vinyl LP (long play) record looks like, there will be many wondering what a cassette tape looks like.