I tried to search the original 42 quote from google, but it would not give me much. I wonder, what is the original 42 quote or aka the answer to life, the universe, and everything else...

  • The original quote is.... pretty much what is says. I'll pull that for you if you like, but your second question in the question is pretty much entirely opinion and isn't something we can answer. – Radhil Nov 7 '17 at 16:54
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    @Edlothiad Linked question asks the background behind why 42 was chosen, whereas this is asking when/where it was first used. – Mwr247 Nov 7 '17 at 16:59
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    @Mwr247 ah in universe not out of universe, my apologies. This should be left open (and made clearer) – Edlothiad Nov 7 '17 at 17:11
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    Ya'll do know that 42 is eventually explained, right? You just have read all of the books and connect all the little pieces. – JRE Nov 7 '17 at 17:59
  • All 42 books, yes. Unfortunately they haven't all been published yet. – Mr Lister Nov 7 '17 at 21:12

Keep in mind that the plot of Hitchhiker's Guide spends most of two chapters building up to this moment. Descriptions of the majesty of the computer (which takes up a city), the initial disappointment as the computer states researching the answer will take several million years... and then we come to...

"Good morning," said Deep Thought at last.

"Er... Good morning, O Deep Thought," said Loonquawl nervously, "do you have... er, that is..."

"An answer for you?" interrupted Deep Thought majestically. "Yes. I have."

The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain.

"There really is one?" breathed Phouchg.

"There really is one," confirmed Deep Thought.

"To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything?"


Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.

"And you're ready to give it to us?" urged Loonquawl.

"I am."


"Now," said Deep Thought.

They both licked their dry lips.

"Though I don't think," added Deep Thought, "that you're going to like it."

"Doesn't matter!" said Phouchg. "We must know it! Now!"

"Now?" inquired Deep Thought.

"Yes! Now..."

"Alright," said the computer and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.

"You're really not going to like it," observed Deep Thought.

"Tell us!"

"Alright," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question..."


"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep Thought.


"Is..." said Deep Thought, and paused.




"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.

The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 27

... which is immediately followed in the next chapter by...

Out of the corner of his eye Phouchg could see the sea of tense expectant faces down in the square outside.

"We're going to get lynched aren't we?" he whispered.

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    I admit, I assumed and immediately went for the printed book, and forgot the radio play came first. That's material I don't have access to though, so if it's played differently there, I won't know. – Radhil Nov 7 '17 at 17:26
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    @Kaleab - probably doesn't matter what type the variable is (yes, I heh'd). You ought to read the book. Part of the way this is made relevant, and not just an extravagant punchline, is that seeking an Ultimate Answer to the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is pretty pointless when you don't even know what the Question is supposed to be. – Radhil Nov 7 '17 at 19:35
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    @Kaleab it is the number of pips in a pair of dice – KorvinStarmast Nov 7 '17 at 20:09
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    I wish to state here for the record that it is not the string "Fourty Two". – Mr Lister Nov 7 '17 at 21:11
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    @Kaleab - the computer speaks - it's not a printout on a screen or paper, it's spoken. String or integer is not relevant. Strongly suggest you read the book - this will help you understand. – Tim Nov 8 '17 at 2:02

The original radio script is pretty close to the novel, but here it is for the sake of completeness. Taken from a 1985 edition of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Original Radio Scripts (photo):


TWO: Deep Thought prepares to speak.

DT: Good Evening.

ONE: Good Evening... Oh Deep Thought... do you have...

DT: An answer for you? Yes, I have.

THREE: There really is one?

DT: There really is one.

ONE: To everything? To the great question of Life, the Universe and Everything?

DT: Yes.

TWO: And are you ready to give it to us?

DT: I am.

ONE: Now?

DT: Now.

ONE: Wow.


DT: Though I don't think you're going to like it.

TWO: Doesn't matter! We must know it!

DT: Now?

TWO: Yes! Now!

DT: All right.


ONE: Well?

DT: You're really not going to like it.

TWO: Tell us!!!!

DT: All right. The Answer to Everything...

TWO: Yes...!

DT: Life, The Universe and Everything...

ONE: Yes...!

DT: Is...

THREE: Yes...!

DT: IS...

ONE/TWO: Yes...!!!

DT: Forty two.

(Pause. Actually quite a long one)

TWO: We're going to get lynched, you know that.

There are a few small differences to both the novel and what was eventually heard on the radio:

  • It's apparently evening on the radio but morning in the book.
  • There are three of the aliens talking to Deep Thought in the script but the episode reduces it to just two, a change the novel keeps.
  • The two are credited as First Computer Programmer (Ray Hassett) and Second Computer Programmer (Jeremy Browne). They don't get names until the novel.
  • In the episode, Second Computer Programmer adds a "Yes!" in the middle of one of Deep Thought's lines, right after "An answer for you?".
  • Second Computer Programmer's a fair bit more confident about that impending lynching than Phouchg.
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    They are NOT Magratheans. Magrathea is the world where they make planets. Deep Thought was someplace else entirely. After Deep Thought, the magratheans were hired to build the Earth as a computer to figure out the question to the answer. – JRE Jun 5 '18 at 15:30
  • This is almost an exact duplicate of the answer from a year ago – NKCampbell Jun 5 '18 at 16:20
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    Except it quotes from the radio play rather than the book. – JRE Jun 5 '18 at 17:08
  • @JRE You're quite right. I've corrected it to "aliens" since "mice" isn't strictly accurate and doesn't make sense out of context anyway. As far as I can recall, they're never given an actual species name. – Withad Jun 5 '18 at 17:19
  • You say “what was eventually heard on the radio” but didn’t the radio episode come first? – Edlothiad Jun 5 '18 at 17:52

I seem to remember that the question was "What are six nines?", but I could not say if this came from the radio, the book or TV. After a few minutes of "deep thought", I realised that 42 = 6 x 9 in base 13 [4 x 13 = 52, 52 + 2 = 54]. QED! I have never met anyone else who noticed this.

P.S. I always wanted to ask Douglas Adams about this, but he tragically was taken from us too soon. In any case, would he have admitted (or claimed!) that this is what he meant?

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    The fact that 6x9=42 in base 13 is very widely known, and even acknowledged in the comments of the top-voted answer. Adams himself said that it was coincidence: "I may be a sorry case, but I don't write jokes in base 13." – F1Krazy Jan 8 '20 at 17:46
  • F1Krazy: Thanks for that. I admit that I did not spot that when I skim-read the answers. (Also, I have only just discovered this site.) Please also note that although your circle of friends may be fluent in non-decimal bases, I doubt that this is generally true for the vast majority of the population! – DougM Jan 8 '20 at 17:50
  • Not a problem. Welcome to the site! – F1Krazy Jan 8 '20 at 17:54
  • Why does base 13 important in the universe? – Kaleab Woldemariam Jan 8 '20 at 19:17

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