The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy turns 42

One of the first questions I’m asked about Device42 is where does the name come from. Readers of this blog will, of course, know that the name comes from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (HHGTTG), a science fiction fantasy series (first on the radio, then books, tv, and movies) created by Douglas Adams in the late seventies.

In the book, “we learn that in the distant past a race of “hyperintelligent, pan-dimensional beings” created a supercomputer named Deep Thought to determine the answer to the “Ultimate Question to Life, the Universe, and Everything”, which Deep Thought determined to be the number 42.” (Reference: Wikipedia)

With two British parents, I had been raised in the seventies and eighties watching Monty Python. Absurdist humor had, therefore, long taken hold of my brain. I first heard what would become HHGTTG on ski trips with my family up to Vermont. The normally interminably long drive would take on a different hue with that program on. I would just hope that we would stay in range of the radio tower long enough to hear the end.

In the summer of 1979, I travelled to England to spend time with my extended family, and it was there that I got the first book in the series. It was, for me as an 11 year-old boy, a revelation. I stayed up all night finishing it. And then I read it again. It was one of the first books I truly loved.

And why did I love it? For different reasons than I do now naturally. Back then, it was all about how absurd the whole thing was (now it’s about how it looked at British life). I loved the concept of the towel being the most useful object in the whole Universe – particularly this example:

“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can…wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); “

Reading this section, I felt like these books were written by someone who was talking to me. And when I returned to England 1980, my first trip was to the bookstore to pick up the second book. These books formed my sense of humor as well as my love of reading which continues to this day. And these books would go on to get me interested in other books by authors like Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Robbins. And they would spark my love of movies like Time Bandits.

Life sometimes has an odd symmetry to it. In May of last year, I started to chat with Device42. And having spent my early childhood engrossed in the books, it seemed only fitting that I join a company that drew its name from them. And I loved the connection. “42” is, as mentioned above, the answer to the “Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.” And that’s exactly what Device42 tries to do for our customers for their IT infrastructure. Our goal is discovery everything in your IT estate to make it easy for you to manage, transform, and modernize.

This year marks the 42nd anniversary of the Hitchhiker’s Guide – make sure you subscribe/follow our social feeds on Twitter and Linkedin to hear more about this throughout the year as we celebrate Douglas Adams and the world he created.

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