1967, the Summer of Love and Silicon Valley
Image credit: Stanley Mouse for E&T
The seeds of Silicon Valley and 21st century tech culture were sown in the Summer of Love 50 years ago.
They say if you remember the 1960s you weren’t there. I don’t remember a thing. I am told I spent spent most of 1967 flat on my back, oblivious to what I was doing or where on Earth I was. So yeah I was, like, there, for that Summer of Love of 50 years ago. But I was only a few months old.
I've seen the films, watched the bulletins and heard some of the music, though. I imagine those bright, colourful, sunny summer months in California, halfway around the world on the far side of America, must have seemed a very long way away indeed from a grey, wet English summer. Yet those sun-drenched flower children made themselves known worldwide thanks to their clever use of new media technology to spread their messages of protest – like campaigners do in social media today. Paul Dempsey looks at the parallels in protest.
The Our World broadcast, the first multi-satellite programme beamed around the world with contributions from multiple countries, was a landmark in broadcasting that was overshadowed by the advent of colour TV in England just weeks later. The UK’s contribution was the first time the world had heard, let alone seen, The Beatles perform their peace anthem All You Need Is Love.
1967 was of course the year of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Jonathan Wilson explains how new and old technology at Abbey Road shaped the unique sound of that seminal album, probably The Beatles’ greatest and certainly the one that caused the biggest stir.
Listeners quickly spotted that LSD could stand for Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds as well as lysergic acid diethylamide. John Lennon claimed it was just a coincidence as the inspiration for the song came instead from a child’s drawing. LSD was big on the psychedelic scene and it had been made illegal on both sides of the Atlantic the year before. Now, half a century later, the legal authorities are cracking down on today’s acid equivalents, those drugs formerly known as legal highs that are now illegal. But banning them is easier said than done. Rachel Brazil investigates the dangers of synthetic highs or designer drugs, the tests designed to identify psychoactive substances and the technology race to beat them.
The greatest legacy of the Summer of Love is also the most unexpected. In this month’s cover story, Chris Edwards maps how the San Francisco hippie scene of 1967 became the seeds that grew into Silicon Valley. He looks at how the Valley culture came together with Wall Street and how its hippie roots can still be spotted in today’s technology businesses if you know where to look.
Finally, it would seem reasonable to assume that Scooby Doo’s van was a VW camper, which became identified with first the surf scene and then the hippie movement of 1960s California. But look more closely and it’s a Mystery Machine in more than name. What kind or kinds of vehicle is it? Let us know what you think. It’s the burning issue of summer 2017. Tim Fryer looks at the electric future of the VW camper.
While I was just a babe in arms, one man who was most definitely on the scene is the graphic designer we commissioned to draw this month's cover illustration. He was one of the top psychedelic poster designers of the time. You can see glimpses of his original late 1960s work in the image below.
Love and Peace!