A visionary romance: Steve Jobs and LSD

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A visionary romance: Steve Jobs and LSD

One of the most innovative minds of our time is thought to have owed some of his inspiration to hallucinogens. As it turns out, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, and technology extraordinaire was quite fond of occasionally dropping LSD.

One of the most innovative minds of our time is thought to have owed some of his inspiration to hallucinogens. As it turns out, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, and technology extraordinaire was quite fond of occasionally dropping LSD.

It may be quite hard to believe for some, especially a lot of the die hard Apple fan boys out there, but upon interviews with the Pentagon prior to a presidential visit, he was recorded admitting to have taken LSD up to 15 times between 1972 and 1974. He told pentagon officials that he had no words to describe the experience, but that, “LSD was a positive life-changing experience for me”, and did not regret the decision of using it at all.

This information became widely soon after his passing away from pancreatic cancer, through the Freedom of Information law, though Steve did not keep his use a particularity large secret from those around him.

Steve Jobs treated LSD with the quite reverence that it deserves. He claimed to have taken it either on a sugar cube, or in a gelatine form. It would not be unreasonable to believe that this gelatine LSD could be none other than the famous Clearlight (not to be confused with the lesser Windowpane).

Clearlight was thought to be some of the most powerful, purest stuff available on the market. It came in gelatine square that had a 250 micrograms dosage – quite a lot compared to the 50-100mg standard disco hit.

This was real top shelf stuff, coming in an ornate wooden box filled with 40 small, 100-dose glass bottles. One of these boxes would have set you back around $1,200 at the time. When you consider that the standard street quality LSD would have cost you $500 for the same amount, or $800 for the stronger “sunshine” LSD, you gain some idea of what this stuff really was.

Waldron Vorhees, the self proclaimed “King of Acid” and member of the inner circle of the Clearlight creators quite happily took credit for being the muse behind so many inventors and creators. He quite famously said in an interview “I turned on 50 million people. Why don't you all send me a dollar? I'd like to do an appeal. If some heavy-duty lawyer wants to be associated with the person who turned on 50 million people and probably created a lot of the computers and the virtual reality and all the rest of it. ... People come up to me and they say, 'Man, I would never have thought of any of this shit without acid”.

Think about it, Steve jobs was a renowned perfectionist, and the insane level of devotion and care that went into the creation and presentation of Clearlight may have easily influenced and reflected in how much attention Steve paid to the amazing presentation of his products, right down to his care for the little details.

Whether or not Steve Jobs actually took the fabled Clearlight is a matter of speculation and debate, but what we can say with some certainty is that LSD and hallucinogens have had a major influence on human creation and invention for a very long time. Steve jobs being a prime example of someone who took it into their life and was positively guided by it.

To know that it held such a special place in the heart of someone so prolific is somewhat warming to me. His life long admiration for the drug even influenced the way he conducted himself with his employees. During job interviews Steve Jobs is known to have asked candidates how many times they have dropped LSD in their lives in an attempt to both throw them off guard, but also gain an insight into their inner working. He was profoundly effected by his experience, and whilst not a majorly vocal advocate, he believed it was in everyone’s best interest to try it themselves as well.

In 2007 Steve was contacted by the 101 year old Albert Hofmann, the inventor of LSD. In his letter to Steve he asked for his support in proving the medical use of LSD with clinical medical research, as well as clearing its name of the stigma that the misuse of the 1960's culture of rebellion gained it. He wrote:

“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.


Albert Hofmann”

There is no official word of whether Steve Jobs actually replied, and if so, what he said; but it is a hope of ours that he did offer covert support before Albert Hofmann eventually passed away at the ripe old age of 102.

As you can see, LSD was a major part of Steve Jobs' life, molding him into the person he was and shaping his outlook on the world and how we interact with it. Who knows, maybe that iphone you or your friend owns was the direct result of the inspiration he gained from this illustrious drug.