Colours/finishes

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WM-3000

(1990)

WM-3000, picture by Nick Jarman

The WM-3000 was one of the first products in the “my first Sony” line. Aimed at children with generous parents, “my first Sony” was intended to break into the market for children’s audio equipment (popularised by the wide availability of stories on tape) that had been previously been dominated by the likes of Fisher-Price and Tomy. Whilst some of the well-known Japanese manufacturers had released brightly coloured cassette players and radios which may or may not have appealed to children before, “my first Sony” was a dedicated complete range from a company that also made “serious” products such as colour TV sets, VTRs, proper hi-fi and broadcast equipment. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The WM-3000 was a simple model to make. It was based on the WM-B10, a basic Walkman model of moderate performance. Putting this into a sturdier, brighter coloured case would have probably been enough to arouse some interest, but that was not how things were done at Sony in those days, so the WM-3000 was better than that. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

Most importantly, the WM-3000 had to be safe for children to use. To this end, all the edges were made smooth and rounded and the battery cover was made so that it could not be detached, eliminating a choking hazard. Throughout the initial period of popularity for the personal stereo, fears had been voiced that playing music at high volumes through headphones cold damage the listener’s hearing, something that would not be an acceptable risk for growing children. To prevent this, the WM-3000 was the first personal stereo cassette player to incorporate a volume limiter. This would later become a common feature across the Walkman range, where it was known as “AVLS” (Automatic Volume Limiter System). Rather than simply restrict the range of the volume control, the limiter monitored the level going to the headphones and cut the gain of the amplifier back if it was deemed excessive. Thus the system retained the same maximum sound intensity, regardless of how the tape was recorded. The limiter could be turned off, but the switch was recessed and so could only be operated by an adult using a pen or small screwdriver. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

To interest children in the workings of the machine, a clear viewing window was placed at the rear so that the wheels inside could be seen rotating as the tape played. The plastic parts were much the same as those of the WM-B10, but they were moulded in brightly coloured plastics, a nice detail. The capstan flywheel was coloured blue and printed with a spiral of yellow dots. When viewed under electric light, a stroboscopic pattern was formed as the flywheel turned, adding yet more interest. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

The bright colour scheme of the “my first Sony” range suited the requirement perfectly, though interestingly it was not completely original. The red and yellow theme, along with the “thumbs up” logo, had both been seen in a version of the ICR-3 pocket radio of 1988. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.

To complete the outfit, the WM-3000 came with a matching pair of red MDR-006 headphones and a red carrying strap. It gave similar results to the WM-B10 (and many other basic models), though it was the first Walkman since the TPS-L2 not to have a setting for chrome or metal tape playback. Text copyright © Walkman Central. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.