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The first Walkman is shown at a special display at the Sony Archive building in Tokyo. After 30 years, Sony has stopped making the Walkman in Japan. ((Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press))

Sony is sending its cassette tape Walkman into retirement in Japan as demand for a music player dwindles to a tiny niche in the era of digital technology.

Company spokeswoman Hiroko Nakamura says Sony stopped Japanese production of the portable music player in April and sales will end once the last batch disappears from stores.

Sony has sold 220 million cassette Walkman players globally since the product's July 1979 debut that changed lifestyles by popularizing music on the go.

More than 30 years later, the cassette Walkman has been rendered an anachronism by MP3 players and iPods.

Demand for cassette players in Japan is now largely limited to elderly users.

But Sony will continue production of the cassette Walkman in China to accommodate users abroad, including in the U.S., Europe and some Asian countries.