Kids Are Exposed to the ’80’s Walkman for the First Time. Their Reactions Are Worth Watching

Posted April 16, 2014 by J Matthew Cobb in News

A laughable experiment exposes children to the Walkman for the very first time. But it looks like the tape might get the last laugh

Ahh. Kids say the darndest things.

A very smart YouTube webisode series by the Fine Brothers chronicling the reactions of youth with prehistoric inventions (yeah, that’s anything older than ten years almost) is getting lots of attention these days. And one of their more recent exhibits focused in on the ’80’s cultural breakthrough of the Sony Walkman, the vintage portable cassette player.

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It wasn’t that long ago when the Walkman was the rage. But as we take two steps into the 21st century, the descendants of Millennials are looking at the technology with a funny grin. Many of the children and young adults interviewed poked fun at the massive size of the contraption. Some even suggested that it was too complicated (“press play, put tape in, fast forward, put earphones in). The heavily-mentioned Apple iPhone (and iPad) seemed to be the easy bait for comparison. And why not? Most devices with loads of gigabyte storage can store well over 2,000 songs. Then there’s the option of streaming via the Internet, where countless songs can be played and even jumbled together to make a non-stop playlist. This surely beats the limitations of the cassette tape, which limits consumers to approximately 30 songs.

The reactions of the kids are pure and innocent, even comical. One child’s reaction to the original price tag of $200 suggested that inflation is a serious bitch: “Not a lot…An iPod cost $700.”

But let not this one example of viral video mania get the last word on the lifespan of the cassette. The vintage lightweight artifact is en route to making a comeback. It’s a slow one, but one that has caught many by surprise. It’s nothing like the resurgence that vinyl is experiencing (which saw a 33.5 percent increase in sales in the first half of 2013 alone), but public interest has seen a surge. Thanks to indie labels jumping on the format and the celebration of the mixtape niche, the cassette will be celebrating its first Cassette Store Day this year. Concerts are being planned out and limited edition releases and reissues from bands like Fucked Up, Deerhunter and The Flaming Lips. More evidence of the tape comeback has been documented in reports by Pitchfork, Noisey, USA Today and OC Register.

If everything keeps going up for cassettes, maybe the next generation won’t frown or laugh at the Walkman so much. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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