HERC loves DAK, Part One

For those of us over the age of let's say 30, the (usually) multi-page DAK ads in our favorite magazines of the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties were inescapable.  They were everywhere: Rolling Stone, stereo magazines, photography magazines, computer magazines, sports magazines - you name it.  At the company's peak, nearly four million of us were also receiving DAK catalogs in the mail on an almost monthly basis.  HERC SR. got on DAK's mailing list in the late Seventies (he subscribed to several stereo and photography magazines) and young HERC used to devour the catalogs as soon as his father was finished with them. Sometime in late 1980 or early 1981, HERC SR. ordered a pair of Sony Walkman knock-offs from a DAK ad in one of his photography magazines.  Drew (the man behind DAK: Drew Alan Kaplan) called the player The Pocket Concert.
When the players arrived about two months later, they were completely different from the ones pictured in the ad - even the headphones were different.  HERC cannot remember if his Dad was mad but he does remember putting three batteries (AA?) into his own player, plugging the orange foam headphones in, putting them on his head and popping in the first cassette he could lay his hands on - John Denver's Poems, Prayers and Promises, just like the one pictured below.
HERC had a small stash of maybe a dozen mixtapes he had dubbed off the radio on his sweet Panasonic AM/FM Cassette Recorder at the time but they were all the way upstairs in his room.  A month or so later, a new ad in another magazine featured a black and white pic of the cassette player both HERCs had received.   HERC does not remember getting the pictured FM tuner module and he's fairly certain he tossed the case without ever using it.  A case on your Walkman?  That would be like putting a case on your phone today - who does that?
And that was it, HERC's life was forever changed.  Listening to music became his foremost obsession, the place where all of his money and free time went.  HERC knows his own player made the late Summer move out from the Midwest to the Sonoran Desert, eating batteries like they were breath mints before dying just after Thanksgiving 1981.  HERC finally got a Sony Walkman that Christmas, the first of three models he would wear out during his high school years. Here's a color picture of HERC's first portable personal cassette player, the Unitech IS-118F, taken from a different angle than the picture above.
As it says in the header, this is the first of a multi-part series. The second part will deal with multi-band equalizers from DAK while the third part will deal with speakers.  There may be other posts but the final HERC Loves DAK post will be about HERC's experience with DAK over this past Holiday Season!  Can HERC ask a favor?  Please comment on this post accordingly - tell HERC about your general DAK ad or catalog experiences or about your first Walkman or Walkman-style cassette player or even your phone case. Please save the equalizer, speaker or other product comments for the upcoming posts.

Thanks to Cabel Sasser and his 2012 post for reminding HERC how much he loved those old DAK catalogs. Downloading the vintage catalogs Mr. Sasser has lovingly scanned and uploaded to the Internet Archive and then browsing through them on his iPad thrills HERC to no end.

The DAK pages above are from Google Books, specifically back issues of Popular Science and Skiing.  All copyrights respected.  The cassette image is from an ebay listing.


  1. I'm going to completely ignore the title of this post as the jokes write themselves.

    My varied experiences with early Walkman have been briefly mentioned here, here, and here. I never bought a DAK product because the ad copy (and my general distrust for mail order businesses at the time) made me wary of product quality.

  2. I admit it.... I was a DAKonian!!! As a kid I used to drool over all of the cool gizmos that Drew would explain to us all through his "fireside chat" style of advertisements. Although to be completely honest I think the only thing I actually bought was an EQ for my home stereo system. Great memories!!! 8^)