Miles Lightwood is a boom box archivist. His site, Boomboxラジカセ Creators, celebrates the history of these "portable" social music machines. Collectors Weekly talked to Lightwood about his passion for badass boomboxes:
Collectors Weekly: Where did the boombox originate?
Miles Lightwood: The boombox by its typical definition—a handled, portable, radio cassette deck with one or more speakers—was actually invented in the Netherlands by Philips in 1969. The one considered the first boombox was made so that you could record from the radio onto the cassette without having any external cables for a microphone.
All of a sudden, you've got a very easy music-sharing culture, and the Japanese companies basically took that idea and ran with it.
In my mind, the first device that's like the urban boombox of popular culture is the JVC RC-550 (above), which was a monster box. It's got a 10-inch subwoofer, it looks mean, and it's got lights and the full package. That was made in '75.