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"it slowly dawned on me that the landscape of science is maybe what interests people a great deal in science fiction."
- Gregory Benford

Self-Satisfied Door  
  A door that is much more satisfied with its functionality than it has any right to be.  

This kind of device is classic Adams; why restrict the characters to the people or sentient beings? You can instill personality in any device, if you really want to.

“Listen,” said Ford, who was still engrossed in the sales brochure, “they make a big thing of the ship's cybernetics. A new generation of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation robots and computers, with the new GPP feature.”

“GPP feature?” said Arthur. “What's that?”

“Oh, it says Genuine People Personalities.”

“Oh,” said Arthur, “sounds ghastly.”

A voice behind them said, “It is.” The voice was low and hopeless and accompanied by a slight clanking sound. They span round and saw an abject steel man standing hunched in the doorway.

“What?” they said.

“Ghastly,” continued Marvin, “it all is. Absolutely ghastly. Just don't even talk about it. Look at this door,” he said, stepping through it. The irony circuits cut into his voice modulator as he mimicked the style of the sales brochure. “All the doors in this spaceship have a cheerful and sunny disposition. It is their pleasure to open for you, and their satisfaction to close again with the knowledge of a job well done.”

As the door closed behind them it became apparent that it did indeed have a satisfied sigh-like quality to it. “Hummmmmmmyummmmmmm ah!” it said.

From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.
Published by Harmony Books in 1979
Additional resources -

The door's "straight man," so to speak, is a very doleful robot, one which was built before emotional balance in robots was really perfected. In the above quotation, the robot Marvin is reading with an overload of irony.

The idea of the door with a personality is none the worse for having been used before; see the robot door from Philip K. Dick's 1953 story Colony, the Mark IV door keeping robot from A. Bertram Chandler's 1959 story Colony and the toll door from Philip K. Dick's excellent 1969 story Ubik. The earliest reference is probably the phonographic lock from A Journey to the Year 2025, by Clement Fezandie, published in 1921.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  More Ideas and Technology by Douglas Adams
  Tech news articles related to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  Tech news articles related to works by Douglas Adams

Self-Satisfied Door-related news articles:
  - Robotic Singing Benches And Bins With Adam's GPP

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