The cordless telephone is something we take for granted these days – but just 34 years ago it was a cutting edge piece of technology.

Walk and talk on the Hawk!

Billed as the “telephone that’s as free as a bird” in a press release in December 1983, a hawk called Ratty was used as part of internal advertising, with its owner Eddie Hare telling BT’s staff magazine BT Today: “I work with hawks all the time but a Hawk telephone would be marvellous for me. I could ring back to aviaries from the flying field."

About 200 of the phones were distributed on April 14, 1983 as a test, before the Hawk went on sale in London in December of that year, and to the rest of the nation a few weeks later.

Walk and talk on the Hawk!

The Hawk’s main selling point was to target people fed up with the phone ringing out before they had the chance to answer it.

It read: “Hawk is a telephone that loosens ties on the customer rather than getting him to the end of his tether.

“The handset is actually a short-range radio receiver and transmitter … power is provided by batteries which are automatically recharged when the handset is replaced on the base unit. A built-in security code means that no other cordless handset user can receive calls through your base unit or make them at your expense.

“With a Hawk in the hand, the frustration of rushing to a distant phone only to find it stops ringing as you arrive becomes a thing of the past.”

Phone users’ concerns about privacy and billing were also addressed in the press release.

BT Hawk telephone

Other features considered significant were dialling buttons rather than the old dial, a redial facility, a memory function so you can save numbers while on the phone, and volume control.

And if that wasn’t enough, the Hawk came with a nifty belt clip so you didn’t have to miss a call (if you were within 100 metres of the base unit).