In 1985 I installed this very same Western Union branded cellular telephone systems in a friend's Cadillac. I don't know where he got the phone or how much he paid for it, but it was like the Rolls-Royce of cellular phones. At the time cellular phones cost thousands of dollars (no portables yet) and this was the best of the best. I mounted the large, heavy transceiver in the trunk and ran the fat wiring harness under the carpeting to the transmission hump under the dash, where I mounted the control head.
The Western Union cellular (AMPS) transceiver was the only one I've ever seen to this day that used a diversity receiver--two receivers and two antennas arranged in a 'voting' configuration to ensure the
800 MHz band signal would be received as reliably as possible. The wavelength of the radio signals in that 800 MHz band made 'picket fencing" (rapid signal fade-in / fade out) a problem as the car phone was in motion and experienced signal peaks and troughs from to wave interference, which could cause the transceiver to lose connection with the cellular repeater /
tower. So I took advantage of the feature and mounted dual 5/8 wave coaxial antennas on either side of the trunk. It looked and worked great.
The Western Union control head was impressive. The keypad and electroluminescent blue display looked similar to an AT&T Merlin desk set, but with the control panel and keypad angled to the left towards the driver. The handset looked like a normal modular handset with squired-off earpiece and microphone. All very ergonomic. It had a key switch to prevent unauthorized phone calls (by parking valets) and a relay that could blow your car horn when you were outside the vehicle when your phone rang!
This phone had full-duplex audio and superb audio fidelity. Remember, the AMPS standard mandated a 30 KHz FM chanel for each side of the conversation. Nowadays we're stuck with a comparatively awful-sounding 4 kbps half-duplex codec and a tinny earpiece speaker. Progress? Only for telco industry profits. Cell phones used to sound as good as landlines.
Western Union not only invested in cellular licenses in various markets, but also manufactured end-user equipment. This phone model was made by WU's subsidiary E.F. Johnson, which had a long history of making quality two-way radio gear. (I still have my 1959 E.F. Johnson Challenger amateur shortwave transmitter.)
The New York Magazine advertisement posted by HAncock4 touted the phone's privacy. That's a laugh. While it was more private than pre-cellular IMTS (which was like a giant party line) analog (AMPS) cellular calls were anything but private. Anyone could easily monitor nearby random cellular conversations with an ordinary analog TV by tuning through the upper UHF TV channels which had been recently refarmed by the FCC for cellular around 1980.
To address potential cellular users' privacy concerns, the cellular telephone industry lobby bought a new federal law in 1986 called the ECPA (Electronic Communications Privacy Act) which for the first time criminalized listening to certain radio frequencies. And it denied FCC type-acceptance for consumer-grade receivers/scanners that could receive those frequencies. But modifying radio scanners wasn't difficult and turned cellular monitoring into a popular hobby -- until the FCC allowed cellular telcos to switch to encrypted digital modulation in 2007.