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Technology has evolved both our listening habit and the ways to listen to music

WE all listen to songs while commuting or in our spare time. Technology has evolved our listening habits and the mode of listening to music. Whether it’s a Walkman, a CD player, or an MP3 player, devices of various forms and sizes have been invented to better suit our mood. In this article, we will look at the evolution of hand-held audio devices.


SONY’S Walkman was perhaps the first step towards providing music lovers with a platform to enjoy music on the go. Although Walkman is not produced anymore, it isn’t obsolete either as people still have it as a symbol of good old times. First released in 1978, the Walkman instantly became everyone’s favourite gadget. It is a portable audio cassette player that was seen as a mini version of an audio cassette player, which people could strap alongside their belt or slide in their pockets. Walkman’s portable size was its biggest advantage; however, the only disadvantage was that it could play only one audio cassette at a time.


WITH the popularity of Walkman skyrocketing across the world, the next step was to evolve Walkman into a device that could play a music CD that holds more songs than an audio cassette player.

The Diskman became available in the market during the 1990s when CDs replaced floppy disks and audio cassettes. Sony changed the name of Walkman to Diskman and, during the same era, launched NW-A800, where A stood for “All in one, Advanced and Attractive.”

Mobile digital media player

AS technology progressed, the size of audio cassette players and CD players reduced further to make them compact devices that could slip in the tiniest of space in one’s pocket. This led to the invention of a mobile digital media player, which is a digital device capable of storing audio, video and pictures.

The storage capacity is at least hundred times more than that of a Walkman and equal or slightly greater than a Diskman. These digital media players are more commonly known as portable MP3 players.

Apple’s iPod

APPLE Inc. took the industry of portable audio and video devices to the next level by launching iPod in 2001. The stick-like device had a 5GB hard drive. The later versions of the iPod, however, were compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems so that users could directly download files onto their iPods from their PCs and laptops. The first version of an iPod had storage capacities of 5 to 10GB and with the arrival of newer models, the capacity also increased. The latest iPods, released in September 2012, have a maximum storage capacity of 64GB.

Increased storage capacity

ALTHOUGH the digital media player is a device that can play music, store audio and video files from your PC, and also records sounds, the initial design was quite primitive as it could only playback audio files due to lack of space. However, the audio players of today have a storage capacity of up to 64GB while some have a capacity higher than that. Similarly, the older versions of these media players were confined to run audio files but now they have a mini screen at the front that runs video files as well such as in the case of iPod Touch.

Archos Jukebox Multimedia

ARCHOS released the Archos Jukebox Multimedia, equipped with a 1.5-inch colour screen while another version had a 3.8-inch screen having a 20GB hard drive. The Jukebox did receive positive response from the users, however, it could not beat the quality of Apple’s iPod.

Flash-based players

THE flash-based players are a higher version of compatible media players where files are stored on memory cards that look like USB drives. Their storage capacity range up to 128GB and their size is equal to or, in some versions, a bit smaller than iPods. Students and professionals also use it as a mass storage device to save MS Office and other documents.

Internet access

THE latest versions of portable media players have an internet browser with Wi-Fi connectivity. Apple’s iPod and iPod Touch have similar features. Such versions also have a touchscreen which enables swift internet browsing.