Sony Walkman Models


1979. Sony’s first portable stereo cassette player. The is the baby that started it all. It was a gradual hit in Japan in 1979, and released in the US a year later. The original version featured a well-crafted cassette player in a blue and silver chassis. A pleather pouch allowed the user to move about in freedom and wear the stereo on the hip. A second version sported the oh-so-familiar “walkman” logo in silver. The TPS-L2 featured a “Hot Line” button–the user presses a button to turn off the music and turn on a microphone to drive amplified ambient noise (like someone talking) through the headphones. This was a common feature during this era. Also shown is an ad from a 1981 catalog for the TPS-L2–notice there is no mention of the word “walkman!” Interstingly enough, the Walkman is a term that almost never was–Sony originally marketed this unit in the US as the Soundabout, wound up using the name already popularized in Japan. The Soundabout name was not forgotten, however. Sony used it for their AM-FM/portable cassette recorder a year or so later.


1981. Another behemoth in the Walkman series. Not quite as neat as the original, but still a nice model. This model included a strap as well as a belt clip on the back (assumedly to market to both sexes), dual headphone jacks, LED battery indicator and recessed volume knob. Again, this model sold remarkably well, and the 80s began with every person below 20 wanting a personal, portable stereo. View close-up pictures of top, and side.


1981. This one brought the portable cassette player market to a new level. The design is pretty amazing–the player is only slightly larger than the cassette itself. The chassis is metal, and check out those hi-tech buttons! Again, the Walkman rage was in full force at this time, so this model is fairly common.


1981. The next generation of the WM-1. A little more bulky than the WM-2, but had all of the features of the previous years’ TPS-L2 and Walkman, including twin headphone jacks. Considered the Cadillac of portables at this time, as it was the most expensive but provided the nicest sound. This particular model is a little tough to find these days, perhaps because it was competing against its more affordable and smaller brother, the WM-2.


1980. The SRF-30W was actually the first FM tuner in Sony’s Walkman line, but we’re attracted to the SRF-80W. Check out that oversized tuning knob–it makes for very accurate tuning. But the icing on the cake is undoubtedly its detachable boombox-style base!


1982. Portable stereo collectors would rank this as a worthy find, Sony’s premiere release in the insanely successful Sports Series. This is the only model in the Sports line we like, probably because it just screams 1982. It was sleak and functional, but the design nonetheless departed from the “traditional” black and silver boxy portable stereos of the day. The Sports line was built for joggers, cyclists, or any person outdoors and on the go. Joints contained gaskets and buttons were covered with rubber to resist shock and water, and the bright yellow color served to, um…irritate people?


1982. Another holy grail is the WM-F2, Sony’s first tuner/cassette recorder Walkman. This released upped the ante from the WM-2 by adding more functionality, but the same sleak all metal chassis sweetens the package. Incredibly sexy design even by today’s standards, we contend the F2’s look makes current day bubble-shaped portables look like cheap plasticky pigs.


1984. Sony pushes the envelope with even more functionality. Check out the WM-F30, complete with TV sound! Slightly chunky looking, but Sony was the first to complement VHF tv audio with AM and FM. Uncommon, but these still pop up on occasion at tag sales and flea markets.


1982. Sony’s first recording Walkman. Yes, another valuable model. Yes, we want one.


1983. Okay, there are two Sports models we like. This is the other, a solar-powered model. Unsure if it was ever available in the U.S.


1981. Minimalist design is the trait that comes to mind with this model. This was the first tuner-only model in the Walkman line, and it’s probably the one that pops into the average person’s head when they hear the word “Walkman.” This makes sense, the SRF-30W was a big seller back in the early 80s–it was affordable, small and it performed well.


1989. The 10-year anniversary model. This was the smallest tuner-cassette Walkman to date, “design and production based on the concept of fantastic sound anytime, anywhere.”


1985. This has got to be the most unique and over-the-top Walkman ideas of all time–a portable stereo with dual cassette capability! One side plays, the other plays and records. Sold around 1985, the WM-W800 was priced at around $150. Here’s one of Sony’s press pictures.


1983. Again, Sony sets the standard for what all portable stereos should be. Late in the year, Sony released the WM-10, the smallest, best-sounding cassette player ever. Only slightly larger than the cassette itself, this Walkman featured Dolby noise reduction and new engineering–specifically, an electronically controlled motor speed that resulted in stable sound and low “wow.” In 1983, this was on everyone’s Christmas list. The silver models seem to pop most frequently, but on occasion you may find one in gold.


1983. We puzzled with this one–we find no indication that this model was sold before the WM-F2. So why the lower model number? Perhaps in Japan this actually was released first. It’s not at all like the WM-F2, it’s larger, mostly plastic and lacks the futuristic looks. It did however sport dual headphone jacks, local/dx tuning switch and a hefty belt clip and strap. Sold for under $90 new.


1984. Plain-jane cassette player. What’s with the maple leaf, eh?


198?. I don’t believe this particular model ever reached US shores. This Walkman demonstrates Sony’s departure from the belt-driven capstan mechanism, utilizing a “disc drive” capstan. The result is a more durable walkman with lower wow and flutter. This bright red beauty was found in Europe, where Sony apparently felt more comfortable marketing a wider variety of models in various colors. In America, the average ’80s Sony Walkman was black, silver or possibly a sporty yellow.


1986. What the…? For years, Sony marketed the Wakman as a personal stereo experience until this one. The WM-F57 was outfitted with a tiny speaker elmininating the need for headphones. This model shares the same chassis as the WM-F77, my favorite Sony Walkman of all time. It has auto-reverse, local/dx FM sensitivity switch.


198?. We’ve got to thank our friend Jeroen Morrien of the Netherlands for bringing this terrific Walkman to our attention. This is clearly of 1985 or 1986 vintage, yet it’s equipped with two headphone jacks. How retro. The five-band eq was very much in vogue in the mid to late ’80s. Very sharp model and not a popular model. Great pic, thanks Jeroen!!


1985. My mom shelled out well over $80 to Caldor for this model. The chassis feels a little platicky, but it’s got everything you could want: auto- reverse, graphic eq, direction change and indicator, FM sensitivity and Dolby NR switch. I recently found another for $15, NOS (new old stock) still in the box. Who says you need Ebay to find these vintage gems? Here’s the box.

A Note on Sony Model Numbers: Stereo cassette players in the Walkman line originated with a “WM” followed by numbers and/or letters. The “F” in the model indicates the unit contains a tuner; and “R” indicates a recordable; absence of a letter after the dash indicates a cassette player model. The SRF line consists are tuner-only portables (SRF=Stereo Radio FM?)

17 thoughts on “Sony Walkman Models

  1. … I had an early black model … with built-in speaker oopposite the cassette compartment and also had a stereo mic in one of the four corners … worked with 4 AA batteries … I cannot recall its refrence … ¿ any help ?

  2. Is there any information why Maple Leaves and a Star appear on some models?

    Having collected and sold a few Walkmans over the years and I don’t know if this can be confirmed.

    Is that the models with a radio specifically sold into the US (Star) Canadian (Maple leaf) market have these symbols on them and is something to do with the Local /DX channels? As the non-US version of the WM-F1 has Stereo/Mono not Local/DX

    Is this correct?


  3. WM 60 was released about 85-86 as mentioned. It was probably relatively uncommon because it was one of the more expensive Walkmans of its time – I remember getting one early 87 and it was 90 GBP whist you could get an average Personal Stereo, as they were called if non Sony, for 15 – 25 GBP.
    From memory this unit was brushed metal/aluminium, fairly solid/robust and packed a punch in quality – the earphones went over the head and were foldable into quarters for easy carrying. The earphone went into the ear sideways a bit like the current iphone 6/7 shape. The two earphone jacks meant you could sit and listen to the music with a friend – no other portable or even hi-fi system could do that at the time that I remember – unless perhaps in a pro studio.
    It ran on 4 AA batteries from memory and I once rmember it slowing the tape down to a stop when I was cycling in -9C weather whist it was inside my ski jacket pocket. Good piece of equipment that I remember fondly.

  4. i have a WM-F77 which goes, but could do with some attention. i’d love to find out what i could do/use to bring it back to its former glory. none of the sony walkman sites i’ve visited so far have even mentioned this model.

  5. In the late 80s, possibly early 90s, I had a Walkman sport AM/FM cassette that was yellow. The odd thing about this one was that the AM/FM radio wasn’t built into the unit. It was a separate unit that had to be inserted into the cassette player. Yes, it was the exact shape and size as a cassette and had to be loaded like a cassette to use and unloaded if you wanted to play a tape. I don’t remember for sure if it had an equalizer, but I don’t believe it did. To save my life I never could figure out why they designed it this way. Probably just because they could, or to see if it was better than having it built in. When I bought it, I didn’t know it was designed like that, but it wasn’t a deal breaker since I rarely listened to radio at the time. I decided to keep it just because it was an odd design, but somehow it disappeared many years ago. Any thoughts as to the model number or does anyone else remember this one?

    • To start with – it is unlikely that it was a Sony. I have well over 500 walkman now. None of the Sony had a removable radio pack, as it was called. Toshiba and Kenwood made most of the models with the removable radio pack. The buttons for the radio is on the removable pack. I had one Toshiba Walkman which was similar – it was amazing because it took only half a cassette in and half the audio cassette remained out. The walkman beat Sony WM 10 by miles because it was much smaller than the cassette itself!!

      • Thank you for the info. I’ll have to look into it having been one of those others then. That player that you described that’s smaller than the cassette that it played sounds cool. I think it was Sony that did something similar in one of their Walkman CD lines where the player was a lot smaller than the full sized CD it played.
        Anyway, thanks again for the info about the removable radio. I’ll look into those.

  6. Just wondering here. I used to have one of these SRF devices you’re referring to, i.e. one of those portable radio only ones that fit in the palm of your hand with room to spare. Here in Australia one could get 1 of two versions: an analog and a digital one. I had the analog one. But for the live of me i can’t remember what the model numbers were so i can’t try ebay to buy another. Also the existence seems to have been erased from history. I can’t find ANYTHING on these things at all. Do any of you have a clue ?? I’d sure like to know !

  7. Just wondering here. I used to have one of these SRF devices you’re referring to, i.e. one of those portable radio only ones that fit in the palm of your hand with room to spare. Here in Australia one could get 1 of two versions: an analog and a digital one. I had the analog one. But for the live of me i can’t remember what the model numbers were so i can try ebay to buy another. However the existence seems to have been erased from history. I can’t find ANYTHING on these things at all. Do any of you have a clue ?? I’d sure like to know !

  8. I had what I think was the WM-F1 as it looks the most like I remember mine, but not exactly. I had a black plastic neck strap on mine and all the models I see have cloth for part of the strap. Also, I swear that I remember the holes for the strap ends on the very top of the player, one on each side. But all of the models I’ve seen online show the straps connecting to the very back of the players. I know I got it in the early 1980’s brand new. Anyone know if there was a different version of the models that had this? I believe it was entirely silver colored plastic but not 100% sure on that.

  9. I just noticed that the player you spent the most time describing was the WM-F18, which happens to be the only one I have left out of the several that I would have bought between roughly 1983 and 1991?ish. I don’t have the original headphones, the packaging or the literature for it anymore, but I do have the original shoulder strap and a set of Sony TRH-1 headphones that I use occasionally. I also have a
    cheap-o Chinese Bluetooth transmitter that I pair with a set of JLab Rewind headband type headphones when I feel like going wireless and want just a basic set of over the ear headphones. The battery door is still there, intact, the battery compartment is clean with no corrosion. Even the outside is near flawless. On the back it has the model number as WM-F18/F28, but I can’t find any difference between the two except the F18 is black and the F28 is silver. Is that really the only difference, or did I just overlook something?
    The last one I would have bought would’ve probably been a WM-FX42?… I think, and that would’ve been right around 1991 or 1992. I remember it had a digital display, Bass Boost, 10 FM presets, Auto Reverse, choice of infinite loop or play both sides then shut-off, AVLS, clock with one alarm, basic Dolby On/Off, CrO², and FM Local/Dx. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the headphones; the big, round in ear type with foam pads.

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