• Question: Have you ever looked at the old cassette Walkman, beacause I think that it is a really cool invention, and I really want one for my birthday which is in 2 days, (just if you were wondering) and how do you think they work, beacause my dad explained about a playhead but I didn't really understand, Help please!

    Asked by Ozzlord to Angus, Christine, Guy, Hermine, Ollie on 13 Mar 2018.
    • Photo: Guy Rixon

      Guy Rixon answered on 13 Mar 2018:

      I remember when the first Walkman came out. (Yes, I’m old.)
      The cassette reader works by magnetic traces on the tape inducing electric currents in the reading head, which is a lump of metal held next to the tapes as it moves by. Changing the pattern of magnetic traces varies the current, at audio frequencies (between a few hundred and a few thousand cycles per second). The electric current goes through an amplifier and the amplified current moves the speaker cones in the headphones. Moving the cones at the right frequencies in the right pattern produces the sound.
      It’s all analogue, so gets very noisy, and it loses bits of the music. Back in the ’70s and ’80s it was all new and wonderful. Now, we can do the job with digital MP3 players (like what ‘phones do these days). Old technology is fun, but we shouldn’t assume that because it’s old it’s better.