While some of the technology industry's brightest minds were inventing the first PCs and developing groundbreaking software, they were also feeding their heads with LSD. Here's a look at nine tech visionaries who's mind-blowing adventures on acid have forever influenced the direction and ethos of the computer industry.
Silicon Valley's rise as the hub of the technology industry in the 1960s coincided with LSD's explosion on the cultural scene. Within a few miles of Stanford Research Center (SRI), where Douglas Englebart was envisioning the personal computer as a mechanism to "augment human intelligence," three organizations were then legally administering LSD to guinea pigs. The Veterans Administration Hospital in Menlo Park and the Palo Alto Mental Research Institute were studying LSD to better understand schizophrenia. Meanwhile, the International Foundation for Advanced Study, founded by a former engineer, sought to give credibility to LSD's mind-expanding properties. These organizations offered leaders of the counterculture (Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg) and some of the personal computer industry's founding fathers their first communions with acid. No doubt, their mind-blowing experiences influenced the communal ethos of the early personal computing industry and later the open source software movement.
- Source: John Markoff. What the Doormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry (Penguin 2005).
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(photos from top to bottom: Myron Stolaroff, a former engineer for Ampex, was introduced to acid in 1958 by Ron Hubbard (Captain Trip); he founded in the '60s the International Foundation for Advanced Study in Menlo Park, introducing some of the brightest Sylicon Valley engineers to the psychedelic experience. Author of Thanatos to Eros and The Secret Chief, Myron is an active member of the psychedelic community.
Tim Scully was a psychedelic alchemist who manufactured some of the San Francisco purest and most potent acid in the mid-1960s. An engineer by training, Tim designed sound equipment for the Grateful Dead and supplied acid to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a spiritual group that sought to turn the entire world into acid. In the late 1980s he began consulting for Autodesk (ADSK), writing device drivers for video displays and other equipment. He retired from the company as a senior software engineer in 2005.
Douglas Englebart, intrigued by LSD's potential to "augment human intelligence," first took LSD with a group of engineers at the International Foundation for Advanced Study. He is the father of the 'mouse'...