Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Dr. LSD to Steve Jobs: How was your trip?

July 9, 2009: 9:59 AM ET
Albert Hofmann. Photo: Stefan Pangritz

Albert Hofmann. Photo: Stefan Pangritz

"Dear Mr. Jobs," begins the 2007 letter from Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann to Apple's (AAPL) CEO. "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."

Hofmann, as students of the sixties will recall, was the chemist who first synthesized, ingested and experienced the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide.

Steve Jobs, as readers of John Markoff's "What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry" may remember, dabbled in psychedelics in the 1970s and has called his LSD experiences "one of the two or three most important things I have done in my life."

"I'm writing now," Hofmann's letter continues, "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."

Hofmann, who died last year at age 102, was writing at the request of his friend Rick Doblin, founder of the nonprofit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.

Doblin was hoping for a financial contribution from the billionaire co-founder of Apple. What he got instead, according to Ryan Grim, who posted the previously unpublished letter Tuesday in the Huffington Post, was a half-hour telephone conversation with Jobs. As Grim describes it:

"[Jobs] was still thinking, 'Let's put it in the water supply and turn everybody on,'" recalls a disappointed Doblin, who says he still hasn't given up hope that Jobs will come around and contribute.

Grim got permission to publish Hofmann's letter from the chemist's estate. Grim's Huffington piece is adapted from his book "This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America."

See also: Top 10 moments in Steve Jobs' career

Albert Hofmann photo courtesy of Stefan Pangritz via Wikipedia Commons.

Below the fold: a snapshot of the letter.

Hofmann to Jobs

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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