Obsolete Portable Music Players


These are my obsolete portable music players. A post-1985 cassette player, a 2000 minidisc player and a 2002 iPod whose sole means of communication with the outside world is a firewire socket. In the 90s I didn’t listen much to music while on the move. Since 2006 I use a smartphone as my mp3 player.


  1. #1 Anon
    December 14, 2009

    No 8-track deck?

  2. #2 Martin R
    December 14, 2009

    Were there even portable players for that? I was born in ’72. My first albums were on cassettes and vinyl LPs.

  3. #3 Thinker
    December 15, 2009

    8-track never caught on in Sweden or in Europe in general; I don’t even know if any company attempted a serious launch of that technology. The cassette took that position in the market, probably since Philips pushed it so hard, and once one technology dominates, it is hard for others to get any significant share.

    Looking forward, do you think you will continue to replace your players at the same rate? Or do you think that ten years from now, you will still use your “communications device” (perhaps with additional functions) to also listen to music?

    Finally, I read somewhere that if development of memory capacity keeps improving during the next few years as it has up until now, it will be entirely feasible to create a portable device containing all the music humanity has ever recorded. (The “problem” is that humanity probably keeps creating new music faster than we can play it…)

  4. #4 Martin R
    December 15, 2009

    My current idea is to replace my smartphone every two years while each one still has a reasonable second-hand value. But now that I have such a multi-capable device in my pocket, I find it highly unlikely that I will ever go back to carrying a dedicated music player.

  5. #5 Nan
    December 15, 2009

    There were portable 8-track players. They were the size of ghetto blasters (the suitcase-size cassette players popular in the 80s) and ate D-Cell batteries at an astounding rate.

  6. #6 chris
    December 15, 2009

    I have my 2nd gen iPod Nano, and it is fine for me. It is the first player I bought (about 2 years ago) since a Sony portable CD player I bought in the late ’90s. Which is the first one I bought since the cassette player I acquired in the late ’80’s. I’m not exactly an “early adopter”.

    Here are two tangentially related items. I made a lot of mix tapes on cassette that I used 20 years ago while jogging. I don’t jog much any more, and I haven’t listened to those tapes in years, but I still associate the end of one song with the start of the next, based on the mix I made. So whenever I hear “Red Rain” by Peter Gabriel on the radio, I immediately think the next song they play should be “Funk 49” by the James Gang.

    When I first joined the Columbia House Record and Tape Club, at about age 12 in 1977, the format choices were LP, cassette, 8-track, and reel-to-reel! I chose LP, but it’s interesting that I could have a reel-to-reel copy of “Rumours” lying around somewhere. I wonder, did they make portable Ampex machines?

  7. #7 Kaleberg
    December 16, 2009

    Wow, that’s my iPod right there! It’s great. Not only does it store my, rather limited, music collection, but it can boot and repair my Mac. Then again, I remember my first transistor radio. (I gather that the first portable semiconductor radios in Europe didn’t use transistors but another kind of semiconductor switch.)

  8. #8 Dani
    July 8, 2011

    Great post, but don’t forget about the notorious Walkman and Discman! Here’s a list of other obsolete music devices:


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