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- You're mixing regex with "everything in computing"
And Douglas Adams worked mainly with Apple and Unix. Apple ripped off the * wildcard from Unix, CPM ripped it off from Apple, and MS-Dos ripped it off from CPM. The fact that DOS used it isn't relevant. And regex started in 1951. A quick Google search confirmed that. So yes, it was in existence in 1979. GREP was using regex long before 1979. And yes, DA's programming experience would have exposed him to all this. You seem to be conflating degrees with actual ability.12w
- Calling ASCII both a language and "the most basic computer software" has given me a headache. There's at least four things wrong with this, and my head hurts too much to look any closer.12w
- he played the guitar left handed! Wow! You really do learn something new everyday!12w
- FYI (geek alert) Unix was popular as a document printing/typesetting system early on hence tools like latex and nroff/troff (especially for printing formulas in computer science papers etc)
(trivia alert) grep comes from the ed (or sed) command g/re/p where re is short for regular expression, it translates kind of as "globally in the file/stream, if the re matches, then print the line"12w
- As was mentioned previously, Douglas Adams answered this question himself. There is no reason to make conjecture or add hidden meaning.
He simply made it up while looking outside.
I think the story as is, is magical. He just stared into his back yard and said "42 is a nice number". The lack of significance, combined with the quaint origin would make for the most memorable scene if included in a biopic.12w
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