Nostalgia for the Sony Walkman leads to a hot market for old technology

Lifestyle

Roll tape.

Back during the late 1980s heyday of the Sony Walkman, the parent company of the Apple iPhone of that era teamed up with Tiffany & Co. To create a silver-plated version of the portable personal cassette player, in honor of the 10th anniversary of the ridiculously popular listening device.

Only 250 special Walkmans were made, many of which were delivered directly to some of the greatest names in music.

Today, long after the revolutionary technology has become obsolete, Walkman collector Mark Ip is the proud owner of not one, not two, but three Tiffany Walkmans—on which he spent a total of about $10,000 to remove them from a surprisingly strong collector's market. The Guardian reported.

The Walkman was the Apple iPhone of its time – a must-have status symbol that many could not afford. Linda Bestwick – Stock.adobe.com

Ip, 60, is a prominent Walkman collector; He aims to source the best models he can find, which he showcases on his popular Instagram page, @boxedwalkman.

“I'm a little bit OCD,” Yip told a Guardian reporter. “Because I'm not satisfied with just the individual units. I want the original packaging, user manuals and headphones.

“Like all art collectors, you're a perfectionist,” he said. “What is ideal is a new box, never touched, no scratches, no dust. It is almost impossible, but I will do my best to wait patiently.

Many of the specimens in his collection are so perfect, Ip decided to put them on display a few years ago for the public to appreciate.

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“This is one of my missions in collecting Walkmans,” he said, to introduce young people to something that means a lot to the older generation. Many of the younger attendees were “seeing a cassette player for the first time,” he said. “Most of them were really curious. They were fascinated by its mechanics.

For the Hong Kong-based collector, work is a very personal matter – he keeps about 20 devices out at all times, just to play with; He said Yip's obsession goes back to his youth, when he wasn't able to afford a Walkman of his own.

The popular Sports Walkman was a popular accessory on the waistband of fitness junkies at the time. Photos by Nicola.K. – Stock.adobe.com

“When I was in high school, one of my classmates had the first model, which was… TBS-L2. The stereo sound sounded very good. He remembers being portable.

It wasn't until years later, when these devices were no longer needed and all was forgotten, that Yip began building his vast trove of tape players—about 1,000 of them, he estimated, but he was reluctant to let any of them go. , at least for now.

Not so Steven Ho, Active eBay-er Which lists well-kept Walkmans for up to $3,780 — though most of what he sells, he admits, goes for much less. He says he deals with all ages, from Generation

The Walkman is on display in an exhibition of Japanese art at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Getty Images

“Before social media, it was only for the older generations,” he told The Guardian. “But since social media — Instagram, Facebook, whatever — teens are exposed to old things. Older people buy for their memories. Younger people buy to try. They think it's trendy and interesting.”

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This 50-year-old retiree from Hong Kong, now living in the UK, worked in Sony's marketing department in the 1990s – and for him this is more than just a business. His Walkmans are a vital link to a beloved past.

“Because I grew up with Sony products and worked for Sony, I have a passion for their products,” Hu said. “During those years, Sony was like the Apple of today. I was a normal teenager. I had a Sony Walkman, a Sony radio, Sony everything.

At least one collector admitted to having a thousand Walkmans in storage — with little or no interest in offering them for sale. Ned Snowman – Stock.adobe.com

When he moved to England in 2020, he brought with him his prized collection, including hundreds of Walkmans, Discmans and MiniDisc players.

He tries to limit himself to a budget of about $600 for new acquisitions, but admits to paying just under $2,500 for one of his Tiffany Walkmans.

He said: No, this is not for sale, and it never will be.

“I buy more than I sell,” he admitted, and one of his favorite places to find new acquisitions is Japan, where street markets can be full of finds, although these days entrepreneurs in China are using 3D printing technology. That helps keep the Walkman fever alive, he said.

“Because Walkmans are so expensive, people are making replacement parts, which makes their lifespan longer,” he said, though old technology like this has a few life-extension tricks built in — as long as you have regular batteries on hand. A hand, for example, a Walkman can live forever.

Try bringing your old iPhone back to life after fifty years and see how it goes.




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