In developing the Walkman, Sony disregarded many features previously included in a cassette player/recorder. The Walkman had no recording capability and no speaker. The user had to wear headphones to listen to the playback.
However, the Walkman contained a circuit designed to deliver high-fidelity audio playback, it was portable and simple to operate. By reconfiguring the existing technology into an attractive, compact package, Sony brought to market an original design that proved to be an immediate commercial success internationally. Within months the Walkman was imitated by countless manufacturers.
Two features of the original Walkman were later deleted: the facility for two sets of headphones so that a program could be shared; and the hot line (orange button) which interrupted the audio and activated a microphone so the user could hear what was happening around them without removing the headphones.
A decade after the Walkman was launched a BBC documentary proclaimed: “The Japanese have a profound understanding of the principles of reductionism. It lies at the heart of their culture from Bonsai trees to rock gardens … It is no accident that today the Japanese have surpassed the rest of the world in making intricately crafted hi-tech products.”