A spark, a moment of genius - it's remarkable to imagine how we, as a civilization, go from something that doesn't exist to something that does. Especially when this "thing" can change the social fabric forever. The invention of the computer, the Internet and all that goes with it is an example of one of these “things”. Nothing like this existed before, but suddenly, within 30-50 years, everyone started talking about just that. But how did the computer revolution happen, and was it really caused by the mind-opening qualities of LSD?
The computer revolution and LSD
The invention of the computer began in the 20th century and has continued to evolve and improve ever since. In fact, almost 85% of the world's population now owns some sort of smartphone, and - whether we like it or not - the metaverse is growing.
It is quite difficult to define what the metaverse really is because, just like in the 1970s, the computer then was very different from the one it is today. The metaverse is a futuristic concept that will one day be much more developed than it is now.
It's basically an online virtual space that people can live in, whatever that means. In a sense, it already exists. People spend an average of around 2-3 hours a day on social media, which is an online space.
The most advanced version of the metaverse would exist in an even more sensible way, with people able to see, hear, and maybe even touch the online space and stay there longer.
Etudestech.com writes :
" Born from the fusion between the word “meta” and “universe” in English, the metaverse is defined as a collective and shared virtual space. This concept aims to create a physical virtual reality. Seen as the successor of the internet by the majority economic players in the technology sector, the metaverse combines augmented reality and virtual spaces.
However, where we are today is a far cry from where we were in the 20th century. So let's take a step back and find out how the computer revolution began.
It's hard to decipher when the invention of the computer actually happened because they were nothing like they are now. In fact, the first computers were thousands of complex wires requiring as many separate transmitters.
Very few people had come into contact with these machines, and even fewer knew how they actually worked. They were usually specialized men in lab coats, and the computers were mainly used for calculations.
In a way, they were a bit like big calculators. The main catalyst for the advancement of computers was during World War II, a time when all industrial and electrical inventions had to advance rapidly.
Europeana writes :
"In 1936, Alan Turing 's blog post "On Computable Numbers" was the first major catalyst that spurred innovation in computing. That same year, German computing pioneer Konrad Zuse began building computers at his parents' home in Berlin. Zuse continued to develop increasingly sophisticated machines, and his Z3, completed in 1941 partly with funding from the Nazi regime, was the first freely programmable electromechanical computer ever built."
As the 1970s progressed, computers began to get smaller, friendlier, and more accessible to the average user. In the 1980s, about 9% of US residents had computers in their homes, and they were used for small administrative tasks, games, and data storage. But then the Internet came. It allowed people to communicate and share through their computers.
LSD and Silicon Valley
In the 1960s, the actors of the computer revolution decided to think differently about what its application could be. At the same time, LSD was being explored in the United States after Albert Hoffman accidentally invented it in 1938.
The International Foundation for Advanced Research takes about 350 people on acid trips for research purposes. Some of these people were key figures in the development of computer technology.
Doug Engelbart , the inventor of the computer mouse, is one such person.
The New York Times writes:
"Mr. Engelbart saw much more. His team invented or predicted 'every significant aspect of today's computing world' - point-and-click screen control, text editing, email and networking ."
But he wasn't the only one interested in acid. Bill Gates , the founder of Microsoft , is known to have dabbled in substance.
Also,Steve Jobs , the founder of Apple , did it too. He used it to spark his imagination and look at problems from a different angle. He calls it one of the three most important things he's done in his life.
If that's true - that all those silicon valley partners were taking LSD to boost their imagination and creativity - then maybe the computer revolution really was caused by acid.
After all, every idea has to come from somewhere, and this one was truly something no one had seen before. But it's also important to understand how LSD works.
Harthogson - a disciple of Tim Leary - thinks that acid does not create ideas, but develops them:
The psychedelic experience
"Therefore, the action of LSD is not primarily psychotomimetic, psychotherapeutic, creative or even spiritual - but precisely what it is: a manifestation of the spirit... It acts as a mirror and a magnifying glass for the state of mind of its user.
If the state of that consciousness is anxious or uncertain, LSD could easily work as an anxiety-inducing drug. If it is creative, it could also serve as a creativity activator. If he is spiritual, then spirituality will be enhanced."
In other words, LSD creates and amplifies what is already there. If in the 60s and 70s of the last century a group of specialists in intelligent computing took acid, it was inevitable that they would create something special - for example, the Internet.
It wasn't necessarily just the acid though - the LSD might have given them a boost. It allowed those people known to be hermits, stuck in their own heads, to be creative for a moment. To imagine the future with their ideas. In fact, Tim Leary himself - a psychologist and acid proponent - called the internet " the acid " of the 1990s.
It's romantic to imagine that LSD was the sole purpose of creating the Internet. However, the world is very different from that. The combination of 1960s freethinking and electronic advances - in response to the existing disaster situation in Vietnam and the United States - led to many important discoveries. One of them was the start of the internet, and one of them was the magic of drugs. In a way, they went together.