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