Dr. Hofmann first synthesized LSD in 1938 while investigating ergot, a rye fungus, for Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland.
He was searching for a circulatory stimulant and LSD was the 25th in a series of ergot derivatives he concocted; hence the designation LSD-25.
Studies on laboratory animals did not prove significant and scientists at Sandoz quickly lost interest in the drug.
For the next 5 years the vial of LSD gathered dust on the shelf until April 16, 1943.
"I had a strange feeling that it would be worthwhile to carry out more profound studies with this compound."
In the course of preparing a fresh batch of LSD he accidentally absorbed a small dose through his fingertips and soon he was overcome by "a remarkable but not unpleasant state of intoxication … characterized by an intense stimulation of the imagination and an altered state of awareness of the world."
"As I lay in a dazed condition with eyes closed there surged up from me a succession of fantastic, rapidly changing imagery of a striking reality and depth, alternating with a vivid, kaleidoscopic play of colors. This condition gradually passed off after about three hours."