The New Yorker’s Matt Alt on the gadget that taught the world to socially distance.”Of course, there was most certainly a before and after, a point around which the cultural gravity of our plugged-in-yet-tuned-out modern lives shifted. Its name is Walkman, and it was invented, in Japan, in 1979. After the Walkman arrived on American shores, in June of 1980, under the temporary name of Soundabout, our days would never be the same.” (I bought mine when they were still called Soundabouts. It was the last time I was ahead of the curve.)