Though sections have been redacted and more than two dozen interviews are narrated in dry officialese, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 191-page file on Steve Jobs, released Thursday, reveals numerous lively details about the Apple co-founder’s personal life and professional past, as recounted to FBI agents by his colleagues, neighbors and friends.
A series of interviews with friends and associates – whose names were redacted by the bureau – painted a familiar picture of a technology visionary who intimidated associates and insisted on getting his way, but whose drive and vision inspired admiration, Reuters reports.
According to The Huff Post, the document confirms much of what is already known about Jobs, including his drug use, spartan lifestyle and the intense managerial style that created friction between him and some of his colleagues.
The 191-page dossier was drawn up after Mr Jobs was being considered for a “sensitive” post at the White House in 1991, and is based on interviews with his friends and former colleagues by special agents.
Mr Jobs was being considered for a post on the President’s Export Council – the principal national advisory committee on international trade, reports The Telegraph.
Several pages of memos and handwritten notes also provide a glimpse into a $1 million bomb threat that was made against Apple on Feb. 7, 1985, several months before Apple fired Jobs.
“An unidentified male caller made a series of telephone calls to [redacted] of Apple computer Inc. … and advised that ‘devices’ had been placed in homes of captioned individuals [redacted] and one million dollars must be paid,” the FBI wrote in a memo about the threat.
The FBI noted that its probe of the areas targeted by the individual who made the bomb threat turned up no unusual activity.
One long-term friend, who had attended college with the future billionaire, provided a scathing portrait of Mr Jobs, describing him as a “deceptive individual who is not completely forthright and honest”.
The FBI report said: “Several individuals commented concerning past drug use on the part of Mr Jobs.”
There were comments concerning his past drug use: “… [a former colleague] at ACI (his former employer) stated that during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mr jobs may have experimented with illegal drugs, having come from that generation.
At least 29 people were interviewed for the FBI’s background check, and although their names have been redacted, there are several clues hinting at their identities.
For example, the FBI notes that it interviewed a “roommate” and attempted to contact a woman who “had a baby born out of wedlock,” presumably Chris-Ann Brennan, Jobs’ ex-girlfriend and the mother of his daughter Lisa.
Some people questioned Mr Jobs’ moral integrity. “[a former acquaintance] advised that he has been acquainted with Mr Jobs since … he characterized Mr Jobs as a deceptive individual who is not completely forthright and honest.
“He stated that Mr Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals. … also advised that he was aware that Mr Jobs used illegal drugs, including marijuana and LSD, while they were attending college. … was aware of Mr Jobs’ use of illegal drugs from reports of mutual friends and an admission of same from Mr Jobs.”
Most of the friends and colleagues interviewed by the FBI had high praise for Jobs and recommended him for a position in the government.
Jobs associates with an “eclectic group of people, most of whom are famous,” noted one interviewee, while another endorsed Jobs as someone who “will make a positive contribution on the National scene.”
Another person said he lives a “spartanlike and at times even monastic existence,” and one pointed out that he “liked brainstorming and was good at mediating.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, other aspects of the Steve Jobs narrative are referenced in the file, including his pilgrimage to India and his resulting interest in Eastern religion.
One person whose name is redacted says that Mr. Jobs “had undergone a change in philosophy by participating in eastern and/or Indian mysticism and religion. This change apparently influenced the Appointee’s personal life for the better.”
Jobs died in October after a years-long struggle with cancer. He was recognized for his enormous impact on the media, music and technology industries through such innovations as Apple’s iPod and iPhone.