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FBI releases file on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs

The agency compiled the dossier in 1991, when Jobs was in the running for an appointment to the President's Export Council under George H.W. Bush.

February 10, 2012|By David Sarno and Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times
(Ben Margot, AP )

Questionable moral character, use of illegal drugs, the abandonment of a child and a willingness to distort reality: Welcome to the FBI dossier of Steve Jobs.

On Thursday the agency released a file on Jobs that it had compiled in 1991, when the Apple Inc.co-founder was in the running for an appointment under President George H.W. Bush. Included in the 191-page document are confirmations of Jobs' dabblings in marijuana and LSD, his strained relationship with a high school girlfriend with whom he had a child out of wedlock and even some scribbled notes from a time he received a bomb threat in 1985.

Much of the information about Jobs' youth, business dealings and volatile personality have been widely known for years and received fresh attention after a lengthy biography was published after Jobs' death in October. But in interviewing dozens of friends, ex-friends, neighbors, employees and colleagues, the FBI collected a trove of firsthand opinions of Jobs, one of the most secretive figures in American business.

Though many of his acquaintances agreed that Jobs was a brilliant business man and capable candidate for the post, not all of them praised Jobs equally.

One interviewee, apparently a former colleague at Apple, said that Jobs "will twist the truth in order to achieve whatever goal he has set for himself" and that he was a "deceptive person."

The person, whose name was redacted from the report along with everyone else's, went on to say Jobs would make a fine appointee to the President's Export Council, an committee that advises the president on international trade, as "honesty and integrity are not prerequisites to assume such a position." (The same person later admitted to the agent that he did not receive any Apple stock, "which would have made him quite wealthy now.")

One woman said Jobs was a "visionary and charismatic individual who was at the same time shallow and callous to people in his personal relationships" — a trait she ascribed to Jobs' "narcissism and shallowness."

More than one interviewee brought up Jobs' troubled relationship with his high school girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan, who was also the mother of his first daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs. Jobs "basically abandoned [Brennan] and her daughter," one person said.

However, nearly everyone interviewed agreed that Jobs' intelligence, boundless energy and familiarity with the technology business would make him an excellent trade advisor.

Two interviewees called Jobs "strong willed, stubborn, hardworking, and driven, which they believe is why he is so successful."

The report contained some details of a bomb threat against Jobs in 1985, in which someone calling from a pay phone at the San Francisco airport claimed he had placed four bombs in the homes of Jobs and others and demanded $1 million. An investigation did not turn up any bombs and no suspect was located.

A few quirky details of Jobs' personal life were also buried in the report. He had a 2.65 grade-point average in high school, for instance. And as an adult he "did a great deal of jogging."

As far as his exercise habits, Jobs himself told agents that he was a member at the New York Athletic Club — the only organization he admitted to being part of.

Jobs was also known for being a good neighbor, who at his unadorned homes in Palo Alto and Woodside, Calif., often left his door unlocked and kept to himself.

He was a "quiet and unassuming individual," said a person who lived next door, who noted that Jobs had even "visited her last week to ensure some landscaping he was having done would not cause any problems."

david.sarno@latimes.com

deborah.netburn@latimes.com

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