According to the inexhaustible fount of knowledge that is The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the venerable Hugo Awards were first presented sixty-four years ago, today, at at Philcon II (the second Philadelphia Worldcon).
The Guest of Honour was Willy Ley and a young fellow by the name of Isaac Asimov was the toastmaster. The inaugural Best Novel Hugo went to Alfred Bester for his extraordinary first novel, The Demolished Man.
The inaugural Hugos were a lot more streamlined than they are today, with just seven awards being given out. In addition to Best Novel, Hugos were awarded for the Best Professional Magazine (a tie between John W. Campbell‘s Astounding and H. L. Gold‘s Galaxy), Best Interior Artist (Virgil Finlay), Best Cover Artist (a tie between Ed Emshwiller and Hannes Bok), Best New Author or Artist (Philip José Farmer), Excellence in Fact Articles (won by GoH Willy Ley) and #1 Fan Personality, which was won by the inimitable (and, perhaps, inevitable!) Forrest J. Ackerman.
Inaugural Hugo-winner The Demolished Man is, of course, available as an SF Masterwork. We’ve noted before that Gollancz and Gateway have a proud record as far as the Hugo Awards go, and you can find that record here.
Happy Birthday, little rocket ship!