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In 'Life, the Universe and Everything' Arthur and Ford land on Earth in the distant past and discover that humans are in fact descended from the Golgafrinchans who crash landed on Earth thousands of years ago. So, the ultimate question could never have been found that way because the whole experiment was tainted. BUT because of this, Arthur and Ford decide to create a random question using scrabble tiles and the original Earth inhabitants to pick the letters. They come up with the following question: 'What do you get if you multiply six by nine'. Which proves that the universe is inherently flawed says Douglas Adams. Bit of a let down that wasn't it :)
I agree with Pickle's answer except one point - i thought the original computer was trying to find the answer to the meaning of life, the universe etc. but it took so long that it forgot what the question was, so they built another computer (the Earth) to determine what the question was, which is where Arthur and Ford came in and worked out the question (and you'll probably shout me down but i could have sworn the question was in fact "what do you get if you multiply 8 by 6" (not 9 by 6))