101 Year Old Inventor Of LSD Asked Steve Jobs How Dropping Acid Helped Him Create The Mac

101 Year Old Inventor Of LSD Asked Steve Jobs How Dropping Acid Helped Him Create The Mac

Steve Jobs had a life-long fixation on LSD, and often ended up asking potential Apple employees during interviews how many times they had dropped acid to throw them off guard. Steve Jobs personally considered doing LSD to be one of the formative experiences in his life, and was insistent that others should do it, too.

With such a famous advocate working for free, it’s not a surprise that the man who invented LSD eventually contacted Steve Jobs. What is surprising, though, is how long he waited to get in touch… until he was 101 years old!

In 2007, Albert Hofmann, the man who created LSD in a Swiss lab in the 1930s, wrote this letter to Steve Jobs:

Dear Mr. Steve Jobs,

Hello from Albert Hofmannn. I understand from media accounts that you feel LSD helped you creatively in your development of Apple Computers and your personal spiritual quest. I’m interested in learning more about how LSD was useful to you.

I’m writing now, shortly after my 101st birthday, to request that you support Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Peter Gasser’s proposed study of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness. This will become the first LSD-assisted psychotherapy study in over 35 years, and will be sponsored by MAPS.

I hope you will help in the transformation of my problem child into a wonder child.

Sincerely
Albert Hofmannn

The last line refers to Hofmann’s book, My Problem Child, which describes his discovery of LSD and how it was eventually misused, vilified and outlawed thanks to its role in the 1960s counterculture movement.

Unfortunately, there’s no word if Steve Jobs ever responded to Hofmann, and the LSD inventor died the next year at the ripe old age of 102. Who knows? Working together, Steve Jobs and Albert Hofmann might have finally managed to reverse LSD’s social stigma and maybe even make popping a few tabs mandatory for employment at Apple.

[via OS X Daily]

  • cassandralite

    Actually, Hoffman sent the email in 1994, but he had an Earthlink account, so by the time it bounced back and he saw it hadn’t gone through, he was 101. 

    Back in the day, one had to be careful about the company one kept while under the influence.  One suspects that Steve would have been the type of person whose energy was something to avoid.  Any kind of bullying or will exertion in a companion did not make for a transformative trip, at least not in the positive sense.

  • Manuel

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  • oz

    You really think that Steve would bully or exert will over someone who was tripping? I don’t really understand how anyone could do either of those things if they had experienced LSD. I think everyone should try it at least once.

  • cassandralite

    Oz,

    I don’t know what to say, given that I don’t know your history with it.  But if you do have history, and you managed to avoid other people exerting their psychic will–both straight and tripping at the time–you did well.  People who tripped brought to the experience the people they were.  Clearly, Steve’s ego didn’t get obliterated.  So yes, I really do think that tripping with Steve would have been an all-or-none experience.

  • Space Ace

    People change a bit when you take it though. They become more introspective and peaceful (when they’re not freaking out).

    Also, to the writer: You drop tabs of acid, not ‘pop’ them. 

  • Len Williams

    You weren’t there with Steve. You know nothing whatsoever about what happened, so your comments are pure speculation, bad energy and needless slandering of Steve’s character. 

  • prof_peabody

    Most of what is sold as LSD as far back as the early 70’s is not actually LSD, so most of the people who think they have experienced it, and know all about it, actually don’t.  Just sayin.  

    Also, it’s generally believed/agreed that a true LSD trip is a numinous philosophical experience providing deep insight to the user if he/she has the mental capacity to do that.  It doesn’t mean that people turn naturally pacifist after taking it or change their personality necessarily.  

    Lot’s of people are entirely shallow and have no imagination and thus get nothing out of an LSD trip than a lot of laughing (or crying, screaming, etc.)  

  • cassandralite

    In what possible way did I slander Steve Jobs?  I said that dropping acid with people who had giant egos and were the type to impose them on others–as all accounts of Jobs, including his own, confirm; read the bio, dude–might have been the road map to a bad trip.  As Peabody points out, acid didn’t make you different.  It made you more of the same.

  • Aaron

    Bill Cosby: I said to a guy, I said, “Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful?”, and he said, “Well, it intensifies your personality.” I said, “Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?”

    Is the same true about LSD?

  • cassandralite

    I wouldn’t say that, at least not necessarily.  It’s more that you take your stuff with you.  Sure, you could be shown golden vistas over the rainbow and all that.  Or you could find yourself looking into Mordor.  It wasn’t so much that the drug was unpredictable (though if it had been cut with something, all bets were off); it was that personalities are unpredictable.  I can imagine that Steve might’ve seen the rainbow and gotten all peacey-lovey, but I suspect that he would’ve insisted you have the same experience. 

  • Bob Forsberg

    These unverifiable speculative stories “surfacing” after Steve’s demise should have the bracketed [Bullshit], excuse me [Rumor] after them.

  • Daibidh

    You know, Steve Jobs had the needed personality to drive Apple to where it is today.  My iAddiction is fully intrenched at this point.  But as I learn more about the genius behind it all, I realize I probably wouldn’t like Steve all that much.  Oh well, I’ll love him through his products.  LoL

  • Wtaymore

    Go to any major music festival and you’ll find plenty of the stuff. Not saying there is’t analogues and other stuff floating out there, but the stuff is most certainly out there.

    It’s all about who you know and where you look.

  • anoracle

    Acid and all other Psychedelics are far more valid and useful than the psychotropics MD Shrinks have a habit of prescribing to the sole benefit of Merck and Pfizer.

  • oceanskate

    Steve Jobs had some pretty fruity ideas. First off, he did NOT create the mac!! He instead took credit for what 1000’s of engineers worked on. He was more of a marketer than a technical guru. People, the guy was a flaming FAKE. He used his marketing skills to persuade people into thinking he was this “genius”. Next dropping acid does not make you more creative or smarter. SORRY, but these are facts. They can enhance certain simplistic pathways to the brain, cause changes in perception etc.

    However they do this by impairing brain function. NEXT, Jobs likely didn’t contact him because he was unable to explain how it was that it “helped” him. Even though all he did was take credit for other peoples work to create the mac. Remember, he was noted for being pretty rude to his workers. You know the ones that did the actual work? Jobs was delusional for thinking it helped him at all. Also accounts everywhere show he quit when he was 23. If acid was so useful, why did he stop? Either way, it’s not like he sits there tripping and sees a vision of an iPad3 floating there. Anyone who trips, knows it doesn’t work that way.

    I don’t think you should worship anyone, but if you must, at least worship Woz. He came the closest to anyone of creating a computer. But what he made, isn’t even used anymore as it was replaced with more superior hardware known as the PC. What I am saying is the truth and some people recognize this. What 99% of people out there believe however are marketing lies and exaggerations, and will defend their mother ship ‘apple’ like it’s their mother.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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