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2015/27/1 Headphones model MDR-3L2 for Sony Walkman TPS-L2, plastic / metal / rubber, designed by the Sony Design Centre, created by Akio Morita, Masaru Ibuka (the co-founders of Sony) and Kozo Ohsone, made by Sony Corporation, Japan, 1979. Click to enlarge.

Headphones for the first SONY Walkman, design and manufactured by SONY, Japan

Made
Advances in transistor and microprocessor technologies brought about a revolution in mobile and wearable personal consumer products in the late twentieth century.

One of the most important products to impact upon this design, social and fashion trend was the Sony Walkman, which was first marketed in 1979. Sony reconfigured existing technology into a compact package that delivered high quality sound and was attractive, portable and simple to operate. The Sony Walkman was of original design, was an immediate commercial success internationally and within months was imitated by countless manufacturers in superficial variations of Sony's design.

The Walkman had no speaker requiring the user to wear headphones. Existing headphones were either too small (mono earphone) or too large (designed for use with fixed stereophonic systems in the home). SONY set about designing a lightweight, comfortable headphone capable of delivering high fidelity music to the wearer. This design would complement the Walkman cassette player. This headphone - the MDR-3L2 is the result of that endeavour and achieved all that SONY had set out to do.

The acquisition of the Walkman Headphones builds upon the Information and Communications Technology collection of "design" material and more recent acquisitions of personal mobile devices. The design, development, marketing and social impact of the Sony Walkman are extraordinarily well documented (du Guy, Hall, Janes, Mackay, Negus - Doing Cultural Studies, SAGE, 1997).

Campbell Bickerstaff, 2015

Summary

Object No.

2015/27/1

Object Statement

Headphones model MDR-3L2 for Sony Walkman TPS-L2, plastic / metal / rubber, designed by the Sony Design Centre, created by Akio Morita, Masaru Ibuka (the co-founders of Sony) and Kozo Ohsone, made by Sony Corporation, Japan, 1979

Physical Description

Headphones used with the Sony Walkman portable audio cassette player. The headphones are designed to be lightweight and comfortable when worn. There is a small receiver built into the left and right enclosures. These are mounted on an adjustable spring steel member which passes through a flexible plastic semi circular loop that fits snuggly onto the wearers head. Cables for the signal run from the left and right receivers, join together to form one cable which terminates in a small stereo phono plug. This plug is inserted into the appropriately marked socket on the Walkman.

Marks

Makers marks moulded on headphones."SONY" on plug. "SONY / L / MDR-3L2" and "SONY / R / MDR-3L2" on each ear.On top of the head piece "DYNAMIC STEREO HEADPHONES" and "MADE IN JAPAN"

Dimensions

Height

260 mm

Width

145 mm

Depth

42 mm

Production

Designed

Designed

Notes

The genesis of the idea for a personal and portable audio device cannot be attributed to any individual. The confusion surrounding the genesis for the idea within Sony is also well documented (Doing cultural studies: The story of the Sony Walkman, Sage 1997, pp.42-46).

Product design at Sony is considered a priority, and many other roles within the organisation are subordinate to the Sony design team.

Manufactured in Japan by the Sony Corporation.

History

Notes

These Headphones were manufactured for use with the first Sony Walkman in 1979. The precise history of these headphones is unknown. The curator had been looking for headphones to go with the existing Walkman for some time prior to the INTERFACE exhibition. These were found on the WWW site eBay and purchased.

The Sony Walkman's impact on late twentieth century communication, product design, social and fashion trends, music and media is demonstrated by products, mechanisms and behaviours such as the Discman, MP3 players, mobile telephony, wireless application protocol devices, audio media formats, new modes of distribution and delivery, and studies of their use in public spaces.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 2015

Acquisition Date

23 April 2015

Cite this Object

Harvard

Headphones for the first SONY Walkman, design and manufactured by SONY, Japan 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 7 March 2021, <https://ma.as/520373>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/520373 |title=Headphones for the first SONY Walkman, design and manufactured by SONY, Japan |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=7 March 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Interface: people, machines, design at the Powerhouse Museum.