Buy the typewriter on which Douglas Adams wrote Hitchhiker's Guide for $25,257.94

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There's something so appropriately surreal and disarming about seeing a literary cultural artifact like the autographed typewriter Douglas Adams used to write The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on a book reseller website and sitting right next to a huge red "Add to Basket" button. But there it is, the original Babelfish that translated Adams' own genius-madness into transmissionable form!

N.V. Books in Great Wolford, Warwickshire is selling Adams' vintage Hermes Standard 8 typewriter for a cool $25,257.94. Or, rather, they are selling a first-edition copy of Hitchhiker's Guide in "fine" condition and generously throwing in the typewriter as extra.

With strange significance, the x key is particularly discolored and worn, which I hope will prompt someone to do a statistical breakdown of the frequency of letter x's in Adams' oeuvre. Also, for authenticity, an "End Apartheid" sticker is slapped on the side, identifying it with almost carbon-dated efficiency as a relic of the late 70s and 80s.

What a beaut. I hope, if someone buys it, it comes loaded with a single sheet of Eaton's Corrosable Bond on which has been roughly typed, "So long, and thanks for all the dough."

The Hitch Hiker's Typewriter for Sale [AbeBooks via Steampunk Workshop]

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16 Comments

  1. …Is that a cardboard box from the luggage hold of the Starship Titanic in the background? Wow – quite the collection of goodies!

  2. The x-key was used to delete typoes and words. Even I as a kid, while playing around with mom’s old electric typer, would use x to cross stuff over, reinventing something I’ve learned later is pretty common.

  3. If he’s anything like other typists I know, the X is so worn because he used it to black out typing errors. A guy I knew used to hammer the key for whole paragraphs because he was not allowed to use correction tape or pens on typewritten paper due to office policy.

  4. 25 grand! All I have is $42 dollars…will that work?

    This typewriter reminds me of the guy that found or happened across Douglas Adams old Apple with files still on it.

  5. That’s certainly not the first edition (which was a UK paperback), and I don’t think it’s even the first hardback edition (which was also published in the UK). I suspect it’s the first US hardback edition.

  6. You don’t see many really heavily used keyboards nowadays, because most people get a new one with each computer every few years. But when you find a few to look at, you’ll see that yes, the never-used keys are clean, but so are the most-used, because they get enough traffic that the gunk gets rubbed off again. The in-between keys are the ones that accumulate dirt.

  7. Sadly it appears that X is not a frequently occurring character, at least in the first book, with a mere 444 presses, or 0.21% of the text. It achieves a rank of 23rd with only Z (435), J (284) and Q (239) languishing behind.

    214 of the Zs appear to belong to Zaphod, with just 28 of the Xs cropping up in Beeblebrox.

    I therefore categorically conclude that the typewriter is a fake.

  8. Well, that’s definitely Bop Ad’s signature.

    (As he was known in UK Hitch-Hiker’s fandom, for reasons that should be obvious from, well, the signature…

  9. Wow — the other night, I opened my AD&D Player’s Handbook and found a copy of a typed letter on blue air-mail paper, which Douglas Adams had written me back in January of 1986 in response to my letter to him about how much I lover the Hitchhiker’s series.

    Wonder if he used this typer? 🙂

  10. Ahh for want of money. I felt similarly sad when I wasn’t able to buy his tent (the one he as camping in when he thought of the HHGTTG) for something cheap like 2500.

    Me and a friend have a tradition. Every May we take turns flying out to one another on May 11th (the day he died) and we split six pints of bitter at noon and toast the worlds end.

    This year i was fortunate enough to find cheap tickets from california to london (136 dollars each way) so i went and took a pilgrimage to the man himself.

    I still need to get a nice print of this and get it framed
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/captaintim/2511377479/

  11. I suppose the signature ads value, but… my first reaction was “Ugh, someone wrote on it with a marker.”

  12. Although it’s not got the historical value of being the machine that such a seminal work was written on, I had my old Mac IIsi autographed by Douglas Adams when he came ’round to the Harry W. Scwhartz bookstore in downtown Milwaukee in the early 90s.

    Knowing he was a Mac fun, I hauled mine down there when he came through on a tour promoting “Last Chance to See.” When I placed the machine in front of him, he didn’t miss a beat, saying, “Would you happen to have a marker? I don’t think this pen would work very well.”

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