Walkman is 30

When the Sony Walkman went on sale 30 years ago, it was shown off by a skateboarder to illustrate how the portable cassette-tape player delivered music on-the-go — a totally innovative idea back in 1979.

Sony Corp.'s first Walksman is shown at a special display commemorating the Walkman's 30th anniversary that opened Wednesday at Sony Archive building  in Tokyo

Sony Corp.'s first Walksman is shown at a special display commemorating the Walkman's 30th anniversary that opened Wednesday at Sony Archive building in Tokyo

TOKYO — When the Sony Walkman went on sale 30 years ago, it was shown off by a skateboarder to illustrate how the portable cassette-tape player delivered music on-the-go — a totally innovative idea back in 1979.

Today, Sony Corp. is struggling to reinvent itself and win back its reputation as a pioneer of razzle-dazzle gadgetry once exemplified in the Walkman, which Wednesday had its 30th anniversary marked with a special display at Sony’s corporate archives.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment company lost 98.9 billion yen (US$1.02 billion) in the fiscal year ended March — its first annual loss in 14 years — and is expecting more red ink this year.

The manufacturer, which also makes Vaio personal computers and Cyber-shot cameras, hasn’t had a decisive hit like the Walkman for years, and has taken a battering in the portable music player market to Apple Inc.’s iPod.

Sony has sold 385 million Walkman machines worldwide in 30 years as it evolved from playing cassettes to compact disks then minidisks and finally digital files.

Apple has sold more than 210 million iPod machines worldwide in eight years.