Love them or hate them, it’s thirty years since Michael Harrison made the first mobile phone call on New Year’s Day 1985, using a handset attached to a battery pack the size and weight of a briefcase!

Michael, son of the former chairman of Vodafone, Sir Ernest Harrison, made the call to his father soon after midnight from a spot close to Big Ben in order to wish him a Happy New Year. That was the UK’s first mobile phone call.

Ernie Wise, of Morecambe and Wise, had been due to make the very first mobile call in the UK in a pre-scheduled publicity stunt later that day, but Harrison piped him to the post by liberating a prototype ‘phone and taking it with him on his New Year celebrations in London.

Luckily, photographers were on hand to record the moment for posterity. However, Ernie Wise did not waste the opportunity and, dressed in period costume, made the first official call to the Vodofone head office in Newbury, Berkshire as scheduled.

Vodafone was the first mobile network in the UK, beating rival BT Cellnet by nine days.

The use of mobile phone increased dramatically throughout the year although the prohibitively high cost of ‘handsets’ – retailing for around £2000 – restricted prospective buyers to the rich, businesses, or to companies who acted as rental agents.

Today, more than 400m customers worldwide have signed up to Vodafone’s network and handsets have reduced in size and weight to the point that it is sometimes difficult to see where you’ve put them, let alone fall over them!