(Pocket-lint) - In 1984 Mungo Park was likely to be the envy of many. He was 28. He was the head of the London branch of an American investment bank. He owned the first mobile phone sold by Vodafone in the UK that in today's money had cost him over £4,000.
"It made a huge difference to my life," Park justifies to Pocket-lint.
We've met up with Park and other key figures in Vodafone's early beginnings ahead of the 30th anniversary of the first call made on the Vodafone network. "It meant I had a life again, and meant that I didn't have to stay in the office until 9pm every night."
For Park to be on the ball and in be in contact with New York was everything, so any new "gadget" that let him break out of the office was to be had. The mobile phone gave him freedom, allowed him to escape the office, and yet for the first time still be in touch with the office. He was breaking new ground and had a competitive edge over others in the business.
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Park might have been the first customer, but he wasn't the first to make a call from a mobile phone. That achievement goes to Michael Harrison, the son of Sir Ernest Harrison, the first chairman of Vodafone.
Park was just the first person to take delivery of one shortly afterwards in January 1985 and became part of an elite group of people.
"It's come to my attention recently that they never cashed the cheque," explains Park realising his good fortune almost 30 years later.
That cheque, to a Vodafone salesman who was a friend of Park's at the time, was for £172.50. It became the down payment to the much greater £1475 he eventually paid for the Vodafone VM1 (about £4,000 in today's money). The state-of-the-art carphone that Vodafone launched with, weighing 4.9kg, had to be fitted in the car with an aerial drilled in the roof to get reception.
The stakes were high and the pressure to sell even higher. The company had told its 12 strong fleet of salesmen in September to sell over a 1,000 connections before it launched the network.
For launch there were two main choices: the VM1 or the VT1, with the later coming with a portable, but by no means pocketable, 4.7kg battery pack so you could go on the move with it.
It was the VT1 that Harrison used to make the first phone call to his father at their family's New Year's Eve party in Surrey from the middle of Parliament Square in London.
It wasn't until March in 1985 that potential customers get the option of a completely portable mobile phone, the Motorola 8000X.
As sported by Michael Douglas in Wall Street, it cost a mind-boggling £2,995 at the time (or £8,400 in today's money) and came with 60 minutes of talk time. It had managed to cut the weight down considerably. It now only weighed 749g, almost 6 times the weight of the iPhone 6.
"No one had any idea about the revolution we were creating," adds John Bellow, Vodafone's first operations director and employee number 22 remembering his first days at Vodafone. "People really struggled to understand the phones at first."
Bellow describes the early days as "challenging", mainly because he and his team had been tasked to sell these new fangled "phones" without a network to show how they worked. It still wasn't easy once they had a network up and running either.
"In many cases we held the pitch in a car so they could see it working in action and give them a viable use case."
Bellow's tactics of pictures and blind faith clearly worked: by the time the network launched in January 1985 there were over 2000 pre-orders including the one from Mungo Park.
Bellow still believes the secret to the company's success was opting to go after big business and in particular targeting the top level CEOs at the time.
"Once we convinced them, convincing others became a lot easier and orders filtered down through the company."
As for Park? He moved on to the Motorola 8000X so he could use it away from the car and today, 30 years later, is still relying on his iPhone to free him from the office.