Nerds On Acid: The Internet's Founders Did LSD In The 1960s

By | January 15, 2020

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An unidentified boy wearing headphones and a 'psychedelic disk' on his forehead at en exhibition created by USCO (the 'Company of Us) at Riverside Museum, New York, New York, 1966. (Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

The internet: part useful resource, part LSD trip. For all its "information superhighway" rhetoric, the 'net is just as often used to binge cat videos, listen to people chewing ice, or zone out to extremely satisfying but useless clips of things being made. This shouldn't be surprising given that the internet and our everyday computer tech grew by leaps and bounds during the psychedelic era. People were tuning in, turning on, and dropping out - including the burgeoning Silicon Valley sect made up of students and computer scientists living in Northern California. While we tend to think of hippies and dropouts taking psychedelics to get high out of their mind before running through muddy fields barefoot and blasting the Grateful Dead, there was also a large contingent of young men and women who used LSD as a way to get in touch with themselves and nature while thinking of ways to make the future a better place. The internet, iPhones, and all of that beautiful email that you love so much wouldn't be possible without Silicon Valley's wonderboys expanding their minds.

Stanford computer scientists were experimenting with LSD throughout the '60s

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source: stanford university

How do you take psychedelics correctly? Is there a right or a wrong way to handle it? Should you just dive right in or take it in small doses until you’ve found the perfect amount to feed your brain? That’s what computer scientists in Palo Alto were trying to figure out in the early 1960s.

The Palo Alto experiments of the 1960s saw the young scientists testing the ways in which LSD allowed them expand their consciousness and further understand the new systems they were creating. Many of the scientists found that once they altered their sense of reality, they were no longer deterred by what they’d been told was impossible.