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30 years since Vodafone chairman’s son made Britain’s first mobile phone call

30 years since Vodafone chairman’s son made Britain’s first mobile phone call

LONDON: The man who made the first ever mobile phone call in Britain has recalled the event 30 years on. Michael Harrison, the son of former Vodafone chairman Sir Ernest Harrison, became the first to test the system when he called his father seconds into 1 January, 1985.

Mr Harrison had secretly left his family’s New Year’s Eve party at their home in Surrey to surprise his father, calling him from London’s Parliament Square on the newly launched Vodafone network.

He made the call from the 11lb (5kg) Transportable Vodafone VT1, which had around 30 minutes of talk time.When Sir Ernest answered the phone, his son said: “Hi Dad. It’s Mike. This is the first-ever call made on a UK commercial mobile network.”

Mr Harrison recalled that the line was “crystal clear”, and his conversation was complicated only by the shouting of revellers.

He said: “The setting was quite dramatic, standing by the statue of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square surrounded by curious New Year’s Eve revellers.

I think neither they nor I had even seen a mobile phone before, let alone used one.There was also a little bit of cloak and dagger fun sneaking out of the family New Year’s party to get whisked up to London to make the surprise call to my father.It was just like a normal telephone call. I thought it might somehow sound quite different talking to somebody on a cellular network, so it was a bit of a surprise that everything was so clear.”