February 2, 1983. My 10th birthday and arguably the greatest birthday present of my life. My parents - still freshly divorced - knew they had to make Christmas and birthday count. The early to mid 80s boom in consumer spending allied to a messy separation was the perfect storm.
And so it was, I unwrapped the paper, genuinely oblivious to what lay beneath. The paper peeled back and a silver and blue box marked Panasonic winked at me. Inside, the main body of the product was hugged by a pair of headphones with blue foam. I hadn't asked for it - but my parents had second guessed me. I opened it up and inserted the Ever Ready batteries. We had a student lodger - Nick Carter, 9 years my senior. He handed me a TDK - C90 of Duran Duran's 'Rio,' nodded sagely, and said, "try this."
I put the headphones on, pressed the play button in hard, and the opening swooshing sounds of the title track kicked in. In stereo. I'd never heard anything like it in my life. The future had arrived.
The Sony Walkman. What a brand. What a monumental fuck up.