Douglas Adams’s comic science fiction series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, began its life in the universe as a BBC Radio 4 comedy. The first episode of the original six-part series was transmitted at 10:30pm on March 8, 1978. The show was well received—it became the only radio program ever nominated for a Hugo science fiction award—and quickly developed an ardent following.
From that first broadcast, the Hitchhiker’s Guide grew into a global multimedia phenomenon. Adams wrote a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book—an expanded version of the first four episodes of the radio program—which has been translated into more than 30 languages. Several more installments of the radio series were produced. Other adaptations that followed included stage shows, six novels, a TV series, a computer game, comic books, two series of towels,* radio adaptations of the later novels, and a Hollywood film.
*The importance of towels is one of the themes of the series. From The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams:
A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have … any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.