The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything Is Forty-Two

Douglas Adams? Deep Thought? Geoffrey Hinton? Apocryphal?

Question for Quote Investigator: The number forty-two is sometimes presented as the answer to life’s deepest question. Where did this answer originate? Who suggested this eccentric and opaque answer?

Reply from Quote Investigator: In 1978 BBC Radio 4 broadcast the science fiction comedy series “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” created by Douglas Adams. The fourth episode recounted a tale about the answer to humanity’s ultimate existential question.

Millions of years ago a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings decided to build a computer called Deep Thought to solve the problem of Life, the Universe and Everything. After the computer was finally built and the question was posed, the response was displeasing. Deep Thought stated that it would require an additional seven and a half million years to arrive at an answer.

After this long waiting period elapsed, a magnificent ceremony took place, and the pan-dimensional beings waited expectantly for an answer. The speakers identified as One, Two, and Three are computer attendants. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1985, The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts by Douglas Adams, Section: Fit the Fourth, Quote Page 79, Harmony Books, New York. (Verified with scans)

DEEP THOUGHT: All right. The Answer to Everything …
TWO: Yes … !
DEEP THOUGHT: Life, The Universe and Everything …
ONE: Yes … !
DEEP THOUGHT: Is …
THREE: Yes … !
DEEP THOUGHT: IS …
ONE/TWO: Yes … !!!
DEEP THOUGHT: Forty two.
(Pause. Actually quite a long one)
TWO: We’re going to get lynched, you know that.
DEEP THOUGHT: It was a tough assignment.

Deep Thought indicated that simply knowing the Answer was not enough. The next task was to build an even larger computer with an organic component to determine the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. Deep Thought said it would design the new computer, and it would be called Earth.

Below are three additional selected citations and a conclusion.

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References

References
1 1985, The Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts by Douglas Adams, Section: Fit the Fourth, Quote Page 79, Harmony Books, New York. (Verified with scans)

To Give Real Service You Must Add Something — Sincerity and Integrity

Douglas Adams? Donald A. Adams? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A popular business adage states that providing real service to a customer requires a crucial added ingredient known as sincerity and integrity. This notion has confusingly been credited to two different people: Douglas Adams and Donald A. Adams.

The first was a science fiction humorist who wrote “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. The second was a lawyer and educator who taught business law. Would you please help me to determine the correct ascription?

Quote Investigator: In August 1926 “The Rotarian” magazine published an address delivered by Donald A. Adams who was the President of Rotary International, a voluntary nonprofit service organization. The speech included a passage about providing genuine service. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1926 August, The Rotarian, Volume 29, Number 2, Rotary’s Ideal of Service: Convention Address of the President by Donald A. Adams, Start Page 8, Quote Page 60, Column 3, Published by Rotary … Continue reading

We should all put into practice the Golden Rule of dealing with the other fellow as we would like to have him deal with us. But Service is something more than selling goods which are all wool and a yard wide and making delivery according to the contract. To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money and that thing is sincerity and integrity.

Douglas Adams was born many years later in 1952. The attribution shifted to hm by 2002. Perhaps an ambiguous designation such as “D. Adams” led someone to incorrectly change the attribution of this adage from the lesser-known Donald A. Adams to the well-known Douglas Adams.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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References

References
1 1926 August, The Rotarian, Volume 29, Number 2, Rotary’s Ideal of Service: Convention Address of the President by Donald A. Adams, Start Page 8, Quote Page 60, Column 3, Published by Rotary International, Chicago, Illinois. (Google Books Full View) link