You've heard of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, John Anderson and a host of other people who want to be president.

Now meet Edward W. Clark, who is running for president on the Libertarian Party ticket as the only "real alternative in 1980."

Clark, 50, is a smooth-talking corporate lawyer from Los Angeles with degrees in international relations and law from Dartmouth and Harvard, he wants to abolish the Education and Energy, departments do away with much of the Agriculture Department, drastically cut taxes, realign the Social Security system and get rid of almost all U.S. commitments abroad.

It's a message Clark thinks will sell, and he's going to get a chance to prove if he can build a "coalition of people who want to lower taxes and create a noninterventionist foreign policy" this fall.

Clark won the 8-year-old Libertarian Party's presidential nomination last September, beating out two other candidates. But he didn't start campaigning full time until last Saturday because he felt his candidacy would be overshawowed by the race for the Republican and Democratic Party nominations.

Today he will officially launch his candidacy in a news conference at the National Press Club. "We will be much more visible and upfront from this time on," he said yesterday at a luncheon meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Post.

Clark plans an unusually vigorous campaign for a minor party candidate. He already is on the ballots of 33 states far more than John Anderson's highly publicized campaign -- and says "I'm confident we'll be on the ballots of all 50 states and the District of Columbia" by November.

He says he will campaign from now until November, making from five to seven stops a day.He has filmed a five-minute television commercial which he plans to show 60 times on network television beginning July 8. His campaign has raised $700,000 from "within the Libertarian movement" toward a goal of $3.5 million. "If we should show up in the national polls that amount could go up much higher," he says.

Clark sees the presidential race up to this point as a "search for alternatives" and predicts he will pick up several million votes in November as voters are turned off by Reagan, Carter and Anderson.

Anderson, he says, has lent legitimacy to third-party efforts. "He has opened up peoples' minds out there that third-party efforts are possible, and he's done that at a stage in the campaign before we could ever have hoped to."

But Clark thinks Anderson, on only five state ballots, will fade quickly, because he is running "a personality campaign" instead of one directed at issues. "He is truly an establishment candidate, a Jimmy Carter moderate-liberal in the center of the spectrum," he adds. "I think the public is still looking for an alternative.

In 1976, the Libertarian Party was just another obscure fringe group, an odd collection of former Goldwaterites, black-shirted radical anarchists and aging veterans of Sen. Eugene McCarthy's "Children's Crusade."

Searching for recognition alongside such political lightweights as the Socialists and the American Party, the Libertarian presidential candidate collected just 175,000 votes nationwide.

During the 1978 off-year elections, however, party candidates for offices on the local level to the U.S. Senate polled 1.5 million votes. Clark, the party's nominee for governor of California, got 400,000 votes, or 5 percent of the ballots cast, and the party elected one state legislator in Alaska.