I just heard that the late Douglas Adams‘ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio play is turning 42 years old this year! According to the always-accurate Wikipedia, it was first broadcast on March 8, 1978.
I did not learn about Hitchhiker’s Guide until a few years later.
I was reading the TV Guide and saw a listing for something called “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” on PBS channel 8 in Houston, Texas. I watched it, and learned it was a British sci-fi comedy series with production quality (ahem) similar to Doctor Who. PBS had introduced me to Tom Baker‘s Doctor years earlier.
The next day, in (I think) my 7th grade English class, I quoted one of the lines from the TV series. A boy sitting in front of me turned around and said something like “you saw that too?” That boy was Jimmy, and at that point the direction of my life changed forever.
If memory is correct, Jimmy loaned me his Hitchhikers’ book. Little did I know the impact that being introduced to the humor of Douglas Adams would have on me. I was an instant fan.
Jimmy and I became friends, and he introduced me to computers and BASIC programming. (Though the first time I ever “saw” a computer in someone’s home was in 1979 or 80, when I lived in Dallas, Texas, and my next door neighbor had a TI-99 because him mom worked for Texas Instruments. But I digress.)
We’d go down to the local Radio Shack and type in programs on their TRS-80 Model 3. I’d been inside Radio Shacks many times with my dad during the 1970s, but this is what got me going there on my own.
Being exposed to Radio Shack (I would hang out there any time my grandmother took me shopping near one) is what led me to get rid of my VIC-20 and get my first TRS-80 Color Computer.
Getting my first “CoCo” led me to getting a second one, and a third, and then starting my first software company, Sub-Etha Software.
Starting that company got me to go to my first CoCoFest in Atlanta in 1990.
Going to that CoCoFest where so many people asked “does it run under OS-9” got me to learn the OS-9 operating system.
Learning the OS-9 operating system is what led me to getting my first “real” job at Microware in Des Moines, Iowa.
And so on…
If it had not been for seeing that listing in TV Guide, and then quoting a line from it that was head by Jimmy, I think I would have had a far different life.
Thank you, TV Guide, for introducing me to the Hitchhiker’s TV show. And thank you, Jimmy, for introducing me to Douglas Adams, computers, and phone phreaking.
And happy birthday, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy! I’ve listened to your radio shows, read your books, played your computer game, watched your movie, and look forward to seeing what HULU does with you in their new 2021 TV series.