Thirty years ago this week, Sony introduced the Walkman, the most popular portable cassette player of its day. It took full advantage of the small size and increased stability of the cassette tape format to make music listening a fully portable and mostly individual experience. The Walkman had no external speakers -- only headphones. Although there was a second headphone jack should you wish to listen with a friend.
As this BBC Magazine story notes, "small" is a relative term. The 13-year-old boy they asked to try one out for a week, used to an iPhone, found the Walkman, sized about like a stout paperback, rather larger than he was used to. It was not pocket-sized, and even clipped to his belt it was a noticeable drag on his pants -- maybe one of the origins of the fad of guys who wear their waistlines lower than some women's hemlines?
Two things stand out from the story -- one, this kid is pretty sharp and quite articulate. I know some 43-year-olds who don't think things through the way he did (last year, I was one of them). Two -- Old grumps always talk about how things used to be a lot harder than they are now, but sometimes they're right.