Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was at number one, Colin Baker was Doctor Who, and “Beverly Hills Cop” was in cinemas. But as 1984 ticked into 1985, 1 January ushered in more than just a new year: It was the start of a new era, as the first mobile-phone call in the UK was made that very day 30 years ago.
Britain’s first official call on a mobile (following a beta test in London) was made on 1 January 1985 by 24-year-old Michael Harrison, son of Vodafone Chairman Sir Ernest Harrison. Michael slipped out of the family New Year’s Eve party in Surrey and drove to Parliament Square in Westminster with a Vodafone Transportable VT1 phone, also known as Nokia’s Mobira Talkman. After Big Ben had struck 12 to ring in the new year, Harrison junior dialed home and greeted his father, “Hi Dad, it’s Mike. Happy New Year. This is the first-ever call on a UK mobile network.”