10 Items Of Interest From The Steve Jobs FBI Files

Steve Jobs: The FBI File

The FBI has released a file on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The 21-year old documents show that Jobs underwent a background investigation when he was being considered for an appointment to the President's Export Council under George H.W. Bush. He is often referred to as a "visionary" by those interviewed for the investigation; at the time of the report, Jobs had overseen the debuts of the Apple II and Macintosh, and master-marketed their GUI interfaces. However, the iPod, iPhone, and iPad – products today considered even more revolutionary -- were years away.

Here are 10 interesting facts from the Steve Jobs FBI file.

We Appreciate Your Patience

The FBI's investigation began on Feb. 15, 1991. Although he was being considered for a presidential appointment, Jobs did not seem to consider it an urgent matter. The report notes that a Special Agent in San Francisco attempted to arrange an appointment with Jobs to conduct an hour-long appointee interview, but Jobs' secretary told the agent her boss would not be available for three weeks.

So, Tell Me Why You Left Apple...

At the time of the investigation, Steven Paul Jobs was president of NeXT Computer, which he founded having been relieved of his duties as head of Apple's Macintosh division several months earlier. For a question concerning termination of his employment from Apple Computer, various multiple choice responses were offered, including, "Fired from job," and "Left a job by mutual agreement following allegations of unsatisfactory performance." Presumably because Jobs left after a failed attempt to get then-CEO John Sculley fired; he selected, "Left a job for other reasons under unfavorable circumstances."

Up In Smoke?

Several individuals interviewed for the report commented on Jobs’ drug use in his youth. One advised that he was aware that Jobs used illegal drugs, including marijuana and LSD, while they were attending college. However, he added that has never personally observed Jobs use any drugs or abuse alcohol. Once the agents did get a chance to interview him directly, Jobs mentioned his past use to agents. However, he checked off a box on the application indicating he hadn’t used drugs in the last five years, and no interviewees cited any current drug use.

Deceptive And Dishonest

One former co-worker characterized Jobs as a deceptive individual who was not completely forthright and honest when they worked together early in Jobs' career at a company called ACI. However, the same person said he did not believe honesty was required to hold a high level political position. That co-worker admitted to not receiving any stock from ACI, which seems to have cast that interviewee in a dubious light. Other comments indicated that Jobs' ambition alienated him from fellow workers at ACI.

Child Support Woes

Prior to his marriage to Laurene Powell, Jobs and a former girlfriend had a child together. The report says that initially Jobs was not financially supportive of the child, but that at the time of the investigation he was fulfilling child support obligations.

Steve's Way Or The Highway

The report offers this on Jobs' personality: "Two individuals, who were acquainted with Mr. Jobs while they were employed at ACI [Apple], offered favorable commentary concerning Mr. Jobs. They stated that he is strong willed, stubborn, hardworking and driven, which they believe is why he is so successful. They further stated, however, that Mr. Jobs possesses integrity as long as he gets his way: however, they did not elaborate on this."

The Visionary C Student

Even 20 years ago, people referred to Jobs as "visionary." One interview subject considered him "a visionary and charismatic who was at same time shallow and callous to people in his personal relationships." Although she recommended Jobs for the government position, she described him as narcissistic. She also stated that his success at Apple provided him an enormous amount of power that "caused him at times to lose sight of honesty and integrity and even caused him to distort the truth at times to get his way."

Extraordinary talent doesn't always equate to extraordinary grades, though: The FBI found his grade point average to be an ordinary 2.65 on a 4.0 scale.

Extortion And Bomb Threats

In 1985, Jobs was working at Apple when someone tried to extort $1 million from him. The extortionist claimed explosive devices would be detonated unless he got $1 million. The anonymous male caller said a note with further instructions would be left under the table near a candy machine at the San Francisco Hilton hotel; no document was found and no explosions materialized, according to the documents.

Divine Inspiration

It was Indian mysticism and religion that influenced Jobs' lifestyle, rather than any rumored LSD use, according to the FBI interviews. The same interview subject noted that Jobs was not a technologist or engineer, but rather was someone that understands base technology and technical jargon to the extent that he has been able to become an innovative force within the technical community.

Top Secret

He had top secret clearance from the U.S. government for two years while working at Pixar. In fact, his stock holdings at Pixar were responsible for more than half of his wealth. The report also verified that Jobs was not a communist, nor was any one in his family (Jobs' net worth was roughly $7 billion at the time of his death).