Four Sony Walkman products

Learn About Sony’s Contribution to Pop Culture

Sony is one of Japan’s best-known companies and one of the largest and most respected consumer-product manufacturers. Sony’s gadgets and electronics shaped the world and became a big part of everyone’s lives. It’s a fascinating company that kept on championing their own proprietary product or format. They are known for transforming entire categories of electronics with products like the PlayStation game console and the Walkman music player. Though Sony has lost some of its luster these past few years, still it’s a remarkable company. Here are some of Sony’s big tech products and gadgets that changed the way we live.

1. Sony Walkman

Sony transformed the way we listened to music when the Sony Walkman was invented in 1979. It was the most iconic music player ever made, allowing us to listen to tapes anywhere we go and giving us the license to wear earphones or headphones while walking. It started as a portable tape player, but Sony kept the Walkman brand for CDs, MP3 players, MiniDiscs, and even mobile phones.

2. Sony Discman

Another great “man” introduced to the world by Sony was the Sony Discman, who first took CDs portable in 1984. It let us listen to our favorite albums anywhere in those shiny compact disc format. And if you want to share the music, you can simply plug the Discman in computer speakers. It was released only two years after the launch of the first audio CD.

3. Compact disc

Though CDs have been on their way out for some time now, this technology is a remarkable feat. Sony created them and popularized them. It’s one of the biggest technological advances in history, making its way to the greater public until 1983. It was a dominant medium since then, most often containing recorded music and movies. A lot of us have rich memories of our time with CDS, as well as the CD towers and CD organizers in our homes that stored hours upon hours of digital content. This medium is still in most houses, cars, and computers.

4. Sony MiniDisc

Sony’s MiniDisc was first released in 1992, attempting to create a digital version of the analog audio cassette by making the optical disk more portable and putting it in a hardy plastic shell. It had some potential – it was more efficient and had better quality than mini cassettes. Some people liked recording on a MiniDisc player than mini cassettes. However, it suffered from being too expensive when it came out of the market and adjusting to the mp3 era too late.

5. Betamax

Betamax was probably the biggest flop is Sony’s history. If you’re alive during the ‘80s to ‘90s, you know the VHS vs. Betamax war. Betamax is a video-recording, magnetic-tape format unveiled in Japan in 1975. The first devices hit the US market six months after the Japan launch, unfortunately coinciding with the launch of VHS format by rival company JVC. It created a format war between the two companies. Betamax produced sharper recordings and delivered better picture quality. Meanwhile, VHS was cheaper and can store more footage (120 minutes as opposed to 60 minutes for Betamax). VHS won the market because of cheap and long beats expensive and high-quality. Sales of Betamax dwindled, although Sony only stopped producing its recorder in 2002.

6. Sony Televisions

There has come a time when a Sony TV is present in every household and living areas. Sony has made various strides when it comes to television technology. In 1959, Sony produced the world’s first all-transistor television in 1959. Then came the Trinitron brand name in 1968 for Sony’s line of analog TVs – a brand that means that the TV set gives brighter images than other TVs. In 1973, Sony received the first Emmy award ever received by a Japanese company, thanks to the development of the Trinitron color TV. Sony discontinued the last Trinitron-based TVs in the US in early 2007, marking the end of Sony’s analog TV sets and computer monitors.

Sony TVs have also embraced the flat screen innovation with side speakers with Sony WEGA, which was first released in 1998. The company rebranded its LCD WEGA until summer 2005 when Sony introduced the BRAVIA name. All Sony’s high-definition, flat-panel LCD TVs in North America have carried the BRAVIA name since 2005.

In 2007, Sony debuted the first OLED television and demonstrated the first 4K OLED TV in 2013.

7. Sony PlayStation

The Sony PlayStation is one of Sony’s best creations. As of 2019, Guinness World Records recognized the PlayStation as the world’s top-selling home video game console. It actually started as a joint project between Nintendo and Sony, but Nintendo pulled out over an argument about the revenue split. It infuriated Sony’s president, who became intent on making a console specifically to rival Nintendo. So in 1994, the first Sony PlayStation was launched. It introduced 3D graphics in the gaming world, destroying the status quo. Then, the PlayStation 2 became the best-selling gaming console of all time.

The latest iteration of the PlayStation is the PS4, which was launched in 2013. It was locked in a battle with Microsoft’s Xbox One. The PS5 is set to be released in the holiday season of 2020.

8. Sony Handycam

Your mom and dad’s wedding video and your prom night were probably recorded using the Sony Handycam. First introduced in 1985, the Handycam used an 8mm video cassette tape format, which was much smaller and more portable than the previous shoulder-mounted cameras that used Betamax. The Handycam was also the first camcorder that captures in the mini-DB format, and the first gadget to have a port for transferring video files to a personal computer. Sony did make our life more convenient with this one.

9. Sony mobile phones

Sony’s mobile phones were the bomb in the early 2000s before it was all about iPhone vs. Samsung. The Sony Ericsson line of phones was the whole package – it combines all the good innovative features of Sony and is fully multimedia-capable. It included features like cameras, which were unusual at the time. But when Apple’s iPhone was released in 2007, Sony faced intense competition. After a few years, Sony focused exclusively on smartphones under the Xperia brand. Sony Xperia phones were sleek and of high-quality, especially their cameras. The Sony Xperia Z and Tablet Z was a well-known waterproof Android smartphone trusted by many. Sony Mobile’s sales peaked in 2014, but the volume since has decreased.

10. Sony Vaio

The release of the trendy, sleek, and colorful laptops and netbooks created an excitement not just for the nerds and tech junkies, but also from the fashionistas. The Sony Vaio X505 was an ultrabook before ultrabooks even existed. Launched in 2004, the model was only 9.7 mm thick and weighed just 822 grams. It was the first laptop to have the isolated key chiclet keyboard – way before Apple brought MacBook Air to the market. Sony Vaio continuously excited the tech market with every release. However, in 2013, Sony quit the laptops and PCs business and sold its Vaio business after experiencing decreasing sales every year.