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Steve Jobs: FBI file says Apple CEO could 'distort reality'

The FBI has released a decades old file on Apple founder Steve Jobs. The bureau said that Jobs would "twist the truth."

By Matthew Shaer / February 9, 2012

A portrait of Apple founder Steve Jobs is shown in the window of an Apple store in Berlin.

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In 1991, the FBI conducted a background check on the late Apple founder Steve Jobs, who was then under consideration for a post in the George H.W. Bush White House.

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Now, two decades later, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the government has finally released the 191-page file, and the documents within offer an intriguing look at the man behind the Apple empire. 

Among the topics covered: Possible past drug use; a Top Secret government security clearance given to Mr. Jobs in 1988 (the reasons remain unclear); and the often contentious relationship between Jobs and his employees. "Several individuals questioned Mr. Jobs' honesty stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals," read the FBI documents, according to USA Today

(It's worth noting here that in 1991, when the FBI file was created, Jobs had been fired from Apple, and moved to positions at Pixar and NeXT Computer, which he founded. In fact, the employer listed on the 1988 security clearance was Pixar. In 1996, Apple purchased NeXT, and Jobs returned to his former company.)

Elsewhere, interviewees are more positive about Jobs's infamously prickly demeanor: "Strongwilled, stubborn, hardworking, and driven, which they believe is why he is so successful. And that Mr. Jobs possesses integrity as long as he gets his way; however they did not elaborate on this," reads one excerpt highlighted by the Los Angeles Times

As Philip Elmer-Dewitt of Forbes notes today, the files don't make for a particularly "flattering picture, but [it's] nothing we haven't heard before." Last year, Walter Isaacson published "Steve Jobs," an authorized biography of the Apple CEO, and although the book was largely flattering, it did take note of Jobs's frequent clashes with friends, allies, and competitors. 

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