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The Real Person That Inspired Howard From The Big Bang Theory

The CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory continues to stand the test of time and maintain its massive popularity even after concluding in May 2019. It's not difficult to see why folks consistently flock to the now-classic sitcom, as its largely enjoyable stories, well-timed jokes, and entertaining characters keep viewers new and old tuned in. 

But perhaps the biggest reason why fans love The Big Bang Theory is the incredibly talented cast that brings all those aforementioned elements together. Without its stars, the series likely wouldn't have reached the heights it did across its remarkable 12-season, 279-episode run, and probably wouldn't still be talked about today.

Generally speaking, when it comes to giving credit to The Big Bang Theory's stars, a few names tend to demand the spotlight. Jim Parson's Sheldon Cooper, Kaley Cuoco's Penny, and Johnny Galecki's Leonard Hofstadter tend to get the most praise, but they aren't the only ones deserving of recognition. A standout among the cast members is Simon Helberg as the aerospace engineer and part-time astronaut Howard Wolowitz, who became more and more important to the series with each passing season. In fact, his characterization is tied directly to a real person, whose personality helped lay the groundwork for the fictional scientist.

The real Howard Wolowitz is a personal friend of Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady

Years before he started working on The Big Bang Theory alongside Chuck Lorre, series co-creator and executive producer Bill Prady was a college dropout in New York City, looking for work anywhere he could get it. His search led him to a local RadioShack, seeing him placed in the middle of a field in which his experience was rather limited: computer programming. Thankfully for him, Prady's co-workers were able to help him out and make him a part of their projects, as he explained to Slate back in 2009. 

"I had a short-lived career as a computer programmer," said Prady. "I got involved creating the FilePro software for the TRS-80 at my friend Howie's place in Brooklyn."

That Howie living in Brooklyn? He's none other than the real Howard Wolowitz, after whom actor Simon Helberg's Big Bang Theory character is named. (In 2012, Prady shared on Twitter a sweet snap of Helberg and Wolowitz that's sure to bring a smile to fans' faces.)

The two Howards don't seem similar at first glance — they don't look anything alike, and Prady's colleague certainly wasn't taking any trips aboard the International Space Station. However, the time Prady spent with the real Howard Wolowitz greatly influenced the creation of Helberg's character and those of his cast mates. Prady mentioned in his interview with Slate that hanging around with people like Wolowitz helped him to better understand "geeks" and their niche interests. In turn, this informed his writing when developing The Big Bang Theory, giving audiences an authentic look at nerd culture in all of its glory. 

Considering the final product, it's fair to say The Big Bang Theory hit that nerdy tone right on the head, thanks in large part to both Howard Wolowitzes.