|Significant design||Stereobelt (proto-Walkman)|
Andreas Pavel (born in 1945) is a German-Brazilian inventor who is credited as the first person to invent and patent the portable personal stereo cassette player, better known after the idea was commercialized by Sony as the Walkman.
Born in Aachen, Germany, Pavel went to São Paulo when he was 6 years old, brought by his father who went to work for the Matarazzo industries. It was in Brazil, in 1972, that he invented his device, the stereobelt. He lived in a modern house in Morumbi, and was acquainted to some important personalities of the time, as the journalist Vladimir Herzog and the poet Augusto de Campos
Over the next few years he tried to interest companies like Grundig, Philips, and Yamaha in manufacturing it. In 1977, Pavel filed a patent in Italy on the device, followed by patents in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, and Japan. He moved to Milan aged 30 years.
In 1979, Sony began selling the popular Walkman, and in 1980 started legal talks with Pavel regarding a royalty fee. In 1986 Sony finally agreed to pay royalties to Pavel, but only for sales in Germany, and only for a few models, and refused to acknowledge him as the inventor of the device.
In 1989, Andreas Pavel started new proceedings, this time going through the law courts in the UK. Seven years later, the case was dismissed and Pavel was left with $3.6 million of debt for his court costs. Then in 2001, Pavel threatened Sony with legal suits in every country in which he had patented his invention. The corporation agreed to resume talks with Pavel and a settlement was finally reached in 2003.
The exact settlement fee is a closely guarded secret, but European press accounts said that Pavel received a cash settlement for damages in excess of $10,000,000 and is now also receiving royalties on some Walkman sales. The settlement also includes a clause which will prevent Pavel from bringing future lawsuits. The settlement grants Pavel the recognition from Sony that he was the original inventor of the Walkman; this apparently could only be achieved after the death of Akio Morita, the founder of Sony and previously-recognised creator of the personal stereo.
Pavel reportedly had considered asking manufacturers of MP3 music players for royalties, including Apple (for their popular iPod player). However, in December 2005 he said he did not intend to do so, not wishing to spend further time fighting lawsuits.
He is now developing what he calls a "dreamkit", a "hand-held, multimedia, sense-extension device".
- Rohter, Larry (December 17, 2005). "Unlikely trendsetter made earphones a way of life". The New York Times.
- Dumout, Estelle (June 4, 2004). "Sony pays millions to inventor in Walkman dispute". CNET News.
- Rohter, Larry (December 16, 2005). "Portable stereo's creator got his due, eventually". International Herald Tribune.