Ford Prefect was born on Betelgeuse 5. His father (and uncle) was from Betelgeuse 7, which was decimated during the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster of Gal./Sid./Year 03758. After this, he moved to Betelgeuse 5, where he died of shame because his son/nephew was not able to pronounce his name, which wasn't really a surprise because he was named in an obscure Betelgeusian dialect that died out with the planet. Unable to pronounce his name, his friends called him "Ix".
Ford was famous for his article in the Guide about Earth, which he spent fifteen years researching for. He had originally written a competent article, but the editors cut his verbose article down to "Mostly Harmless," then later to the single word:"Harmless." When another Earth popped up in their universe from the improbability axis, the Guide reverted to Fords complete article about Earth.(See Radio Show) trala;a
At the end of Ford's fifteen-year research of Earth, he was forced off when the Vogons destroyed the planet to make room for a new Hyperspace Bypass. He used his Electronic Thumb to hitch a ride on the Vogon's ship, and found himself in the Dentrassis' kitchen. After waking up, he comforted Arthur Dent, a friend of his whom he had made on Earth. He gave Arthur his copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to stop him from panicking and tried to formulate a plan. It was at this point that he also gave Dent a fish in his ear to translate the Vogons' language. The pair were captured by the Vogons and brought to the captain, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, who read them some poetry of his own making. After this torture, Ford and Arthur tried to lie their way out of being killed, with no success. They tried to talk to the guard who attempted to throw them out of the airlock, appealing to his sense of ethics and reason. As Vogons have neither, this tactic didn't work, and they were thrown out of the ship. As it so happened, the Heart of Gold was traveling nearby at that very moment and, in an incredible stroke of luck dictated by Arthur's contact with a certain Islington phone number, picked them up.
At this point, they were taken up to the bridge by Marvin, a manically depressed robot. On the way, Marvin mentioned Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford's semicousin. This caused Ford to laugh hysterically, because of the long odds involved. Once they reached the bridge, Ford attempted to make introductions, but Arthur already knew Zaphod. Apparently, Arthur had met Zaphod at a party some time prior where he failed to interest one Tricia McMillian. Zaphod, who called himself Phil, picked up Trillian, who also stood on the bridge. At the end of Arthur's story, Ford expressed anger, not at Zaphod's treatment of Dent, but at the fact that he did not pick up Ford on his way out.
Ford quickly joined Zaphod in his quest to find Magrathea, a lost world of extremely wealthy planet-builders. Ford expressed skepticism at the possibility that it actually existed, and that the planet that the Heart of Gold eventually began to orbit around was actually the right planet. As he and Zaphod argued, they were confronted by a recorded message from the Magratheans, who fired guided missiles at them. Arthur turned on the Infinite Improbability Drive, which caused the missiles to turn into a bowl of petunias and a whale. The five made their way to the surface of Magrathea, where Ford, Trillian, and Zaphod went to scout out the planet while Arthur and Marvin remained behind. Zaphod told Trillian and Ford about the fact that part of his brain was burned away. The three were then gassed. Ford and Trillian woke up in a prison, and complained until the Magratheans gave them a catalouge to keep them busy. When a planet made entirely of gold came up, they woke up Zaphod.
After being removed from their cell, Ford, Zaphod, and Trillian met with a pair of mice, where they made small talk before Arthur came in. At this point, the mice made their offer of lots of money for Arthur's brain, from which they planned to extract the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. After Arthur's refusal, they attempted to take it by force, after which the group of four escaped, only to be cornered by two officers. As the group had a discussion with the officers from behind a rapidly shrinking computer bank, they heard a strange sound. Ford, in a brief bout of bravery, went out to see what happened. He discovered that the officers had suffocated (they were methane-breathers, and their life support systems had failed) and told the others that it was safe to come out.