LOS ANGELES -- The psychedelic drug LSD is 50 years old this year, and the Swiss chemist who discovered the now-illegal drug that influenced a generation is trying to help raise money to spruce up its image.

Albert Hofmann made the first batch of lysergic acid diethylamide-25 in 1938. But it wasn't until April 19, 1943, that he took the first LSD trip, by accident.

"Some trace entered my body," he said. "I don't know by which way, maybe a drop of the solution came on my fingers."

While riding his bicycle home from the lab, Hofmann started to feel like he was losing his mind.

But as the dosage dissipated, he said, he started to "enjoy the experience. Then I realized it was an important discovery."

The mind-altering drug eventually fueled millions of trips and inspired a new wave of poets and musicians.

Hofmann, 82, is touring Southern California to raise money for a foundation that is seeking to improve LSD's image and hopes to build a Los Angeles library in his name, dedicated to LSD and the psychedelic movement.

Dr. Oscar Janiger, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, who says he has taken the drug 13 times, is the founder of the Albert Hofmann Foundation.

He said his research between 1954 and 1962 on LSD and creativity showed the drug has important scientific applications.

"It was a very valuable tool because it allowed us to make some inferences about how brain chemistry works and how the mind really functions in perceiving things around us," said Janiger. "It was a very important adjunct to neuroscientific research, and it was used in that way."

The foundation's board of advisers includes poet Allen Ginsberg, who first took LSD in a 1959 government experiment; Ram Dass, once known as Harvard professor Richard Alpert; neuroscientist John Lilly; and Laura Huxley, widow of author Aldous Huxley.

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the library as Janiger.

"If it is strictly a research thing, you can't have enough of that," said Michael Pavlick, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Dangerous Drug Unit in Washington. "But with the people involved, I hope they are not going to glorify it."