Originally called the "Soundabout" in the U.S., "Freestyle" in Australia and "Stowaway" in England, the Walkman's true breakthrough was lightweight headphones that made it easy to carry around. Sony has sold 186 million of the tape players, such a hit that the Oxford English Dictionary included it as an entry in 1986. Not all Walkman sequels worked out as well. The MiniDisc Walkman never gained mass appeal.
By Jeremy Caplan and Brendan Lowe
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