From cassettes to Walkmans: The popular ways to listen to music over the years

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How we listen to music has changed drastically over the years. Source: Pexels and Pixabay.

While it might seem like yesterday you were running around with your Walkman attached to your belt playing your favourite cassette tape over and over again, the revolutionary music player actually celebrated its 40th anniversary this week.

In 1979, the Sony Walkman kickstarted the trend of listening to music on-the-go, which has since evolved into streaming through a single app on a smartphone. Portable listening was a pioneering moment in the music world, so here’s a look back at life before and after the introduction of the famous Walkman.


Records will forever be a popular form of listening. Source: Pexels.

Still to this day, many music lovers insist songs just sound better coming from records, and there are plenty of Baby Boomers who will have had their very first music experiences using them.

Like most things, record players have drifted in and out of fashion since they officially earned the title of ‘vintage’ – but it’s proved great news for everyone who refused to throw out their old records from the ’60s, just in case they become popular again!


Cassettes began to gain traction thanks to how portable and easy they were. Source: iStock.

Cassette tapes blew up in the early ’70s and stood the test of time for a good decade. They were the newest, trendiest, most accessible way of listening to music and eventually cassette players were in every car, home and work place around.

In 1979, the creation of the Sony Walkman shot tapes even further into the spotlight. All of a sudden, people were able to take their music with them and listen without anyone else hearing. The entire concept was a major game changer for how people chose to listen as well as how artists built their albums.


CDs were less fragile than records and more portable than cassettes, making them the next big thing. Source: Pixabay.

Compact discs were not an immediate hit with the public when they were first released. Although they were standardised in 1980, it wasn’t until later in the decade that their popularity actually began to overtake that of cassette tapes.

People loved CDs for a number of reasons, the biggest being that they were able to easily skip to a specific song rather than listening through an entire album. Shortly after the CD’s rise to popularity, cars replaced cassettes players with the trendier, more exciting CD option, and people fell in love all over again.

MP3 Players and iPods

iPods quickly became popular due to their impressive storage amount. Source: Pixabay.

Portable was the new thing. All of a sudden no one wanted to play music out loud in their home anymore, but rather pop some headphones on and jam solo. MP3 players were the first pieces of music technology that stored music directly on the device.

Most people probably remember the very first MP3 players that could only carry a handful of songs and had a less than ideal battery life. While they might not look very impressive by today’s standards, these little music players opened the door for what we now know as Apple’s ever popular iPods, which eventually grew to be able to hold 160G of music – which is around 40,000 songs.


Life’s easier now with so much choice and freedom when it comes to listening to music. Source: Pixabay.

Music streaming is the norm today as it’s quick, easy, cheap and super accessible. With each streaming site holding around 50 million songs in their library, it’s no wonder music lovers are fans of this new way of listening.

What did you grow up using? What was your favourite tape to listen to on your Walkman?

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