The FBI has released a secret dossier on Steve Jobs that reveals an apparently darker side of the late Apple co-founder. The 191-page file, made public after a Freedom of Information request, includes allegations from friends and acquaintances that Jobs was a “deceptive individual” who experimented with drugs and was a negligent father.
The dossier was drawn up by the Bureau in 1991 while Jobs was under consideration for political office in George Bush Sr.’s administration. Digging into the Apple creator’s past, FBI agents interviewed friends and acquaintances, as well as talking to Jobs himself.
Read the full FBI dossier on Steve Jobs at the Bureau website.
So what exactly do the files reveal about a man who, judging by the tributes after his death n October, seemed to be universally revered?
Moral issues? One source described Jobs as “deceptive”, while another claimed he had “alienated a large number of people at Apple” before leaving the company in 1985. Indeed, a former Apple employee said: “Jobs possesses integrity as long as he gets his way.” An unnamed woman accused Jobs of “shallowness and narcissism”. Writing at Gawker, John Cook was surprised at the wave of negative opinion: “I’ve read the files from a lot of background FBI investigations; it’s pretty rare in my experience that this much derogatory information gets dredged up,” said Cook, pointing out that FBI agents usually interview people suggested by the subject of the background check. It’s impossible to know whether this was the case with Jobs as the witnesses’ names have been redacted, said Cook.
One former friend of Steve Jobs described the Apple co-founder as “basically an honest and trustworthy person, he is a very complex individual and his moral character is suspect”, reported The Guardian.
Business sense. “The funny thing is that even people who didn’t like Jobs did recommend him for the position,” wrote Dan Lyons at The Daily Beast, musing that even though the dossier reveals questions over Jobs’s moral character, his business acumen was almost universally praised. Lyons argued that the FBI revelations are unlikely to damage the Apple co-founder’s legacy: “Over time, the negative stuff about Jobs will probably fade away and he’ll be remembered most for what he accomplished.”
Grades aren’t everything. Jobs’s academic record is surprisingly poor given that he went on to found one of the most successful companies in the world, wrote Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic Wire. According to the FBI dossier, Jobs had a high school grade average of 2.65 – or “mostly Bs and Cs”, said Madrigal. Maybe this little nugget of information will give hope to kids who aren’t academically inclined: ”Perhaps the abilities it takes to get a perfect high school record do not perfectly overlap with the skills it takes to build a $450 billion company,” wrote Madrigal.
The FBI also looked into Jobs’s interest in Zen philosophy, with one agent saying Jobs had undergone a change in outlook “by participating in eastern and/or Indian mysticism and religion. This change apparently influenced the appointee’s personal life for the better”.
Drug use and family problems. The FBI delved into Jobs’s personal life as part of the background check, and the revelations that the Apple guru experimented with drugs and apparently abandoned his family have garnered considerable attention. “Mr Jobs appears to have been frank about his past drug use with the FBI,” wrote Rosa Prince in The Telegraph, pointing out that Jobs admitted to agents that he had used “marijuana, hashish and LSD” while at school and university. “Other acquaintances criticised the Apple creator for abandoning his high school sweetheart after she gave birth to their first child,” said Prince.
Bomb threat. “Government documents usually make for dull reading,” wrote Aaron Couch at The Hollywood Reporter, but this is not the case with the revelations in Jobs’s FBI file – not least that he was subject to a million-dollar bomb threat. “In 1985, someone made a bomb threat against Apple, saying he wanted $1 million,” said Couch; authorities never discovered who made the demand, and no devices were found.
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