Lost in history

July 1, 1979: Dorian Lynskey describes the joy unleashed by the Sony Walkman’s birth

The World Today
2 minute READ

Dorian Lynskey

Music writer

When Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 came out in 2017, its star Chris Pratt made a brief video to explain to viewers under 25 what his character Starlord’s most beloved accessory – an original blue and silver Sony Walkman TPS-L2 – actually did. ‘This simply has one function and that is to play music,’ said Pratt. ‘There’s no touch screen, there’s no streaming. You listen to a tape. You start it at the beginning. You end it at the end.’

Since its debut on July 1, 1979, the cassette Walkman has been superseded by devices playing CDs, MiniDiscs and mp3s, and most recently by Spotify apps on smartphones. Nonetheless, the TPS-L2’s fundamental purpose would have been familiar to the film’s younger viewers: it enables Starlord to transform his environment by applying his own choice of soundtrack. In 1979 this was a radical concept.

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