Newly released FBI files on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs have revealed friends and colleagues all thought he could serve the government well, despite his famous ability to distort reality.
The heavily redacted files from 21 years ago, released under a Freedom of Information Act request, include interviews with more than 30 people, including Mr Jobs himself, where his former drug use, neglect of a child born out of wedlock and unpopular management style are discussed.
Mr Jobs, who died last October at the age of 56, was the subject of background checks in 1991 when he was being considered for a position on the Export Council of President George H.W. Bush.
While there is little here not already known about the charismatic business leader, the documents are an interesting historical snapshot of Mr Jobs’ life when he was in his mid-thirties, about to marry and was president of Next computers and chief executive and owner of the Pixar animation studios.
This was after his first period at Apple, where his abrasive management style and differences with executives led to his departure in 1985.
Several former colleagues “questioned Mr Jobs’ honesty stating that Mr Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals”, said an FBI summary of its findings.
“They also commented that, in the past, Mr Jobs was not supportive of the mother of his child born out of wedlock and their daughter; however, recently has become more supportive.”
All the interviewees recommended him for a position of trust and responsibility with the government.
The bureau complains Mr Jobs made himself unavailable for three weeks and could not spare its special agent an hour for an interview.
When they eventually met, Mr Jobs said he had not used an illegal drug in the past five years, but experimented with marijuana, hashish and LSD between 1970 and 1974.
This was during high school and college. A document showed he graduated from high school with a less than stellar 2.65 grade point average out of 4.
Another former colleague told the FBI that while Mr Jobs was “not an engineer in the real sense, he understands base technology and technical jargon to the extent that he is an innovative force within the technical community”.
Others described him as “strong-willed, stubborn, hard-working and driven” and possessing “integrity as long as he gets his way”.
While Mr Jobs told the special agent he could think of no reason why anyone would want to blackmail him, a 1985 attempted extortion incident is reported.
An anonymous caller said four bombs had been placed at three homes and another location and demanded $1m from Mr Jobs to prevent them exploding. The money was not paid, no devices were found and no suspect ever arrested.