Albert Hoffman, LSD Inventor, Dies at 102

Albert Hofmann, who accidentally invented the most popular hallucinogenic drug ever, has died.

Albert Hoffman, LSD Inventor, Dies at 102 In this Jan. 13, 2006 file photo, Albert Hofmann, discoverer of the mind-altering drug LSD and former head of the research department of Swiss chemical company Sandoz, takes part in a international symposium in Basel, Switzerland. Hofmann has died aged 102, officials of the town of Burg, Switzerland, confirmed. Albert Hofmann discovered LSD by coincidence over 60 years ago.
(AP Photo/Keystone, Patrick Straub) Albert Hofmann, the father of the mind-altering drug LSD whose medical discovery inspired — and arguably corrupted — millions in the 1960s hippie generation, has died. He was 102.

Hofmann died Tuesday at his home in Burg im Leimental, said Doris Stuker, a municipal clerk in the village near Basel where Hofmann moved following his retirement in 1971.

For decades after LSD was banned in the late 1960s, Hofmann defended his invention. “I produced the substance as a medicine. … It’s not my fault if people abused it,” he once said.

The Swiss chemist discovered lysergic acid diethylamide-25 in 1938 while studying the medicinal uses of a fungus found on wheat and other grains at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals firm in Basel. He became the first human guinea pig of the drug when a tiny amount of the substance seeped onto his finger during a laboratory experiment on April 16, 1943. “I had to leave work for home because I was suddenly hit by a sudden feeling of unease and mild dizziness,” he subsequently wrote in a memo to company bosses. “Everything I saw was distorted as in a warped mirror,” he said, describing his bicycle ride home. “I had the impression I was rooted to the spot. But my assistant told me we were actually going very fast.” Upon reaching home, Hofmann began experiencing what he called “wonderful visions.”

Three days later, Hofmann experimented with a larger dose. The result was the world’s first scientifically documented bad trip. “The substance which I wanted to experiment with took over me. I was filled with an overwhelming fear that I would go crazy. I was transported to a different world, a different time,” Hofmann wrote.

Just think how long he might have lived were it not for his drug experimentation.

And, so far as I know, he’s no relation to Abbie Hoffman, the founder of the Yippie* movement.

*The original identified Hoffman as the founder of the older Hippie movement rather than its radical political offshoot.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Triumph says:

    And, so far as I know, he’s no relation to Abbie Hoffman, the founder of the Hippie movement.

    I think you meant “Yippie” movement.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I think you meant “Yippie” movement.

    I always thought that was just an alternate spelling.

  3. Triumph says:

    I always thought that was just an alternate spelling.

    Not quite. It would be hard to even peg a “founder” of the hippie movement since its origins go back even to the beatniks. There wasn’t a clear declaration of a hippy movment. (e.g. it would be like trying to pin a “founder” of feminism, civil rights, conservatism, etc…).

    Abbey Hoffman was, indeed, a founder of the Yippees–which was an explicitly self-identified political movement, the Youth International Party (YIP, hence the name).

  4. Lisa says:

    Just think how long he might have lived were it not for his drug experimentation.

    Maybe it was the drug experimentation that helped him live to be 102.

  5. sam says:

    Just think how long he might have lived were it not for his drug experimentation.


    Triumph’s right. For me, the high-water mark of the Yippie movement was Hoffman and Rubin’s appearance before the House Unamerican Activities Committee, an entity they treated with the contempt it deserved. From Wiki:

    The House Un-American Activities Committee subpoenaed Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman of the Yippies in 1967, and again in the aftermath of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The Yippies neither respected nor feared the committee, and used media attention to make a mockery of the proceedings. Rubin came to one session dressed as an American Revolutionary War soldier, and passed out copies of the United States Declaration of Independence to people in attendance. Then Rubin “blew giant gum bubbles while his co-witnesses taunted the committee with Nazi salutes.”[10] Hoffman attended a session dressed as Santa Claus. On another occasion, police stopped Hoffman at the building entrance and arrested him for wearing an American flag. Hoffman quipped for the press, “I regret that I have but one shirt to give for my country,” paraphrasing the last words of revolutionary patriot Nathan Hale; meanwhile Rubin, who was wearing a matching Viet Cong flag, shouted that the police were communists for not arresting him also.

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Sam, do you ever wonder what those acts would have resulted in had they taken place in the Soviet Union under Stalin? I would imagine goons would have appeared out of the woodwork and Hoffman and Rubin after being removed to a small room would have had small caliber bullets fired into the empty skulls. Don’t you find it amazing how the foolish wipe their shit covered feet on the freedoms good men gave their lives to protect. I said this in the 60’s and I will say it now. If you do not like it here, leave. By the way, once upon a time, I use a considerable amount of Albert Hoffman’s invention. Maybe, Sam you should take about 1000 mics.

  7. sam says:

    By the way, once upon a time, I used a considerable amount of Albert Hoffman’s invention.

    Charity might compel me to explain your posts by reference to the above. However, I don’t feel much charity towards you. You’re a moron.

  8. Amie says:

    This man was very lucid, kind and full of energy, lecturing and researching to the end of his days. Right now, there is a lot of promising work being done exploring the therapeutic applications of LSD. The world is a bit poorer without him. RIP Father of LSD…you will be missed.

  9. floyd says:

    So it was Maynard G. Krebs then…Worrrkk??!!?!

    Abby Hoffman claimed to be a “revolutionary”![lol]

    Even if he was only a hippie….
    Founder or follower… Who could tell, when the whole “movement” was stoned.

    He spouted a lot of banalities, but I don’t recall him ever using the terms…
    “like man…” or “Groooovy!!”[lol]