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