For several decades before the 1980s, a radio system of car phones existed that were wildly expensive. Eye-wateringly expensive. With the advent of the first cellular car phones in the early 1980s, car phones were still expensive. But the cellular system was infinitely cheaper than the radio version, and you could call directly, not through an operator as had been the case before. And electronic data transmissions were also possible! In the mid-1980s, the call was going up from dealers in this exciting new technology that car phones were not just for jet setters...
Ford car phones - August 1986...
From the beginning of September, all Ford dealers in Britain will be able to supply and install the new Ford Telecommunications cellular in-car telephone in any of the company's new cars or commercial vehicles.
The system is operated in conjunction with Carphone Group. Users of Ford Telecommunications equipment will be linked to either of the two major cellular networks in Britain.
The Ford Telecommunications system, which is manufactured by NovAtel in the United States, is specially adapted for operation in Britain. It permits direct dial calls to or from any telephone subscriber anywhere in the world.
Additional features include a "hands free" call facility, with a microphone located close to the sun visor and a speaker located in the front compartment of the vehicle for safer and more convenient use by drivers.
Further built-in features include last number redial, a memory bank with a capacity for 50 frequently used numbers, an Alpha facility for permitting other subscribers to be identified by name, a volume control, an electronic lock to prevent misuse of the apparatus, a 3-way conference link and a mute device for enabling private conversations to be held in the car while a call is in progress.
Electronic data transmissions are also possible employing telex, facsimile, videotex or computer formats.
"This is a totally new venture for Ford in Britain," said Mr Derek Dawes, Ford Director responsible for Parts Sales.
He added: "In-car telephones are no longer associated with the jet setters of this world. It is an efficient tool of work and I predict that many of our future customers will be the drivers of commercial vehicles, for whom instant communication at all times is a vital necessity."