The evolution of 'Vodafone' brand started in 1982 with the establishment of 'Racal Strategic Radio Ltd' subsidiary of Racal Electronics plc - UK's largest maker of military radio technology. The same year, Racal Strategic Radio Ltd formed a joint venture with Millicom called 'Racal Vodafone', which would later evolve into the present day Vodafone.
Evolution as a Racal Telecom brand (1980 to 1991)
In 1980, Sir Ernest Harrison OBE, the then chairman of Racal Electronics plc. Agreed a deal with Lord Weinstock of General Electric Company plc to allow Racal to access some of GEC's tactical battle field radio technology. The head of Racal's military radio division - Gerry Whent was briefed by Ernest Harrison to drive the company into commercial mobile radio. Whent visited GE’s mobile radio factory in Virginia, USA the same year to understand the commercial use of military radio technology. In 1982, Racal's newly formed Racal Strategic Radio Ltd subsidiary won one of two UK cellular telephone network licences, with the other going to British Telecom. The network, known as Racal Vodafone, was a joint venture 80% owned by Racal, with Millicom holding 15% and Hambros Technology Trust 5%. Vodafone was launched on 1 January 1985, and shortly thereafter Racal Strategic Radio was renamed Racal Telecommunications Group Limited. On 29 December 1986, Racal Electronics bought out the minority shareholders of Vodafone for GB£110 million and Vodafone became a fully owned brand of Racal. In September 1988, the company was again renamed Racal Telecom. On 26 October 1988, Racal Telecom, majority held by Racal Electronics; went public on the London Stock Exchange with 20% of its stock floated. The successful flotation led to a situation where the Racal's stake in Racal Telecom was valued more than the whole of Racal Electronics. Under stock market pressure to realize full value for shareholders of Racal, Harrison decides in 1991 to demerge Racal Telecom.