first ever mobile phone call in Britain

30 years ago today, the first mobile phone call in the UK was made

It’s the year 1985, the year that the British Coal Miners strike ends, the year that Boris Becker becomes youngest winner at 17 to win the men’s Wimbledon championships, the year that a volcanic eruption in Columbia kills 25,000 people, the year that the Eastern half of North America is hit with one of the harshest winters in recorded history, and the year that the first mobile phone call is made in the UK by Michael Harrison, the son of former Vodafone chairman Sir Ernest Harrison.

That first British mobile phone call was performed on the Transportable Vodafone VT1, a brick of a device that weighed in at 5kg and came complete with a carry handle, antenna and tethered receiver. Below is a picture of the old-school Transportable Vodafone VT1.


Transportable Vodafone VT1

One of Vodafone’s technicians punched in Sir Ernest’s telephone number, and his son, Michael, picked up the receiver and simply said:

Hi Dad, it’s Mike. Happy New Year. This is the first ever call on a UK mobile network.

Elsewhere in the UK, somebody else was making their first ever phone call on a mobile phone.

Ernest Wise, known by his stage name Ernie Wise, was at the height of his career as a comedian in the hit TV show Morecambe and Wise¬†- he used his first ever mobile phone call in 1985 as a PR stunt. This generated a lot more media attention than Harrison’s, which is why many believe that it was Wise who made the first mobile phone call in Britain, when it was in fact Harrison.

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