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LSD Inventor's Remarkable Letter to Steve Jobs

Albert Hofmann, the Swiss scientist who invented LSD, asked Apple's founder in 2007 how he enjoyed his "problem child." The Fix offers a rare look.

By Vince Beiser

11/14/11

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When Apple’s late guru, Steve Jobs, said in 2005 that "doing LSD was one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life," he caught the attention of another guru and inventor who lived 6,000 miles away in Switzerland. Albert Hofmann was a scientist working for Sandoz chemicals in Basel in 1938 when he first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide, AKA LSD. That same year, he also became the first person to ingest acid and experience its peculiar psychedelic effects.

In 2007, Rick Doblin, director of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in Santa Cruz, called Hofmann—who had just celebrated his 101st birthday—and told him that Jobs was a fan of the drug. So Hofmann sent a personal handwritten note, from one revolutionary inventor to another, wondering if the Apple founder might want to support a new study of "LSD-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness." He was also curious to learn whether Jobs found his “problem child” useful in the evolution of Apple. Albert Hofmann died a year later, and of course Steve Jobs passed away last month, prompting a flood of tributes from around the world. Here, The Fix offers a rare glimpse of Hofmann's correspondence.

[Click image to view full size. Transcript below.]


Letter to Steve Jobs

 

The transcript:

Dear Mr. Steve Jobs,

Hello from Albert Hofmann. 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 Hofmann

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