Apple's Steve Jobs FBI File Contains Zero Surprises

Apple CEO Steve Jobs' FBI file, compiled in 1991 as part of a background check, contains no surprises for anyone who knew his history.

The contents of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs€™ FBI file is out in public view, and reveals absolutely nothing startling to those who read Walter Isaacson€™s recent biography.

In 1991, the FBI conducted a background check on Jobs at the request of the White House, which was considering him for a political appointment. The final report features interviews with more than 35 people who knew him.

Before his death in October 2011, Jobs was alternately praised as a groundbreaking chief executive with an outsized influence on the tech industry, and condemned by some for a reportedly take-no-prisoners management style. The FBI€™s research reinforces both those views: interview subjects (their names uniformly redacted) refer to him as industrious and dedicated to his work, while also citing his behavior as, in the words of one, €œalienating.€

In one much-quoted section of the report, an unnamed source characterizes Jobs as €œa deceptive individual who is not completely forthright and honest,€ as well as one who will €œtwist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals.€ That same source alluded to reports of drug use by Jobs during college.

Nonetheless, the unnamed sources quoted throughout the report generally seem to recommend Jobs for €œa position of trust and confidence€ within the federal government. Several allude to his work ethic, including two individuals who €œstated that [Jobs] is strongwilled [sic], stubborn, hardworking and driven.€

Isaacson€™s biography€”which quickly became a bestseller after its release in late 2011€”painted a complicated portrait of Jobs as someone more than capable of shredding those who displeased him, while also displaying flashes of empathy. €œI was hard on people sometimes, probably harder than I needed to be,€ he€™s quoted as saying near the end of the book. €œBut somebody€™s got to do it.€

Isaacson quotes a number of figures throughout the biography who discuss their relationship with Jobs€”product designer Jonathan Ive and his slightly spurned take on Jobs€™ fame is particularly fascinating€”but few offer startling insight beyond the personality already well-established in the public eye.

Despite Jobs€™ passing, Apple continues to bear the imprint of his long reign: given the long development processes at tech companies, the next iPad and iPhone (reportedly due later in 2012) were almost certainly developed under his watch.

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