When I was a kid, I'm not sure how old, I got a little red Panasonic RQ-44A cassette player for Christmas. I learned about design, music, and even audio engineering on it. I still kind of miss it.
It's hard to remember, but Panasonic, like Sony, used to have really great design. Its products were marvels of simplicity and function. My little red rocker was no different. It had nothing more than the basics, but everything worked, and everything was easy enough to be operated by an eight year old. Even at that young age, I remember marveling at how well it all fit together, at the lack of protruding edges or buttons. I think it more or less prepped me for my first Walkman, and later the iPod.