The life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has been picked over extensively since his death in October from complications related to pancreatic cancer. Countless news articles, obituaries, remembrances, and, of course, Walter Isaacson's biography followed in the immediate wake of his passing. Now comes some insight from a more unusual source—the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI launched an investigation of Jobs in February 1991, when he was recommended by then-President George H.W. Bush for an appointment to the President's Export Council, an advisory committee on international trade. (Jobs did serve on the council during Bush's presidency, according to the Associated Press.) The bureau released notes on its background investigation on Thursday thanks to a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request filed the day after Jobs died by Michael Morisy, co-founder of MuckRock, a site that facilitates FOIA filings. The 191-page file is available via Muckrock's Web site.
The bureau interviewed dozens of Jobs's acquaintances, and their testimony about the man reaffirms what we've been hearing for the past several months, but with some interesting twists, which we've included below:
• The FBI launched a "Level III" investigation of Jobs in February 1991. When contacted by investigators, his secretary told the bureau that Jobs would be unavailable for an interview for three weeks and that he could not spare a full hour to meet with agents.
• One interviewee—no names were explicitly revealed in the report—noted that Jobs was successful due in part to his ability to delegate tasks but that "his ambition" alienated him from a lot of people at Apple. This same person also attributed Jobs's success to his being "strong-willed, stubborn, hardworking and driven" and that he "possesses integrity as long as he gets his way."
• A person the FBI interviewed at Apple characterized Jobs as "a deceptive individual who is not completely forthright and honest." This person concluded the interview by stating that even though he didn't consider Jobs a friend, Jobs possessed "the qualities to assume a high level political position" and that "honesty and integrity" were not required for the position in question.
• Another person noted that Jobs had undergone a change in philosophy by participating in "eastern and/or Indian mysticism and religion," a shift this person said changed Jobs's life for the better. The interviewee also pointed out that Jobs lived a "Spartan-like and at times even monastic existence."
• Another interviewee told the bureau that Jobs "is not an individual who can be intimidated."
• Jobs graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif., in 1972 with a grade point average of 2.65 on a 4.0 scale.
• The investigation concluded that Jobs lived "within his financial means," which is reassuring given that at the time he was president of NeXT, Inc., and owner of the Pixar Software Company.
Image of Steve Jobs at Macworld courtesy of mylerdude, via Flickr