Steve Jobs FBI file: four humanizing revelations
Steve Jobs' FBI file shows a man motivated by power and the desire to achieve great things. The Steve Jobs FBI file also produced surprising details that humanize a great visionary.
Steve Jobs’ just-released FBI file depicts a computer executive motivated by power and the desire to achieve great things. It also reveals him to be a demanding boss who sometimes slashed at underlings’ egos and was, in the view of some people, willing to engage in dishonesty and deceit to reach his goals.Skip to next paragraph
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One critic interviewed by the FBI went so far as to say that he thought Mr. Jobs would make a fine politician. He did not mean this as a compliment.
“He concluded by saying that although he does not consider [Jobs] to be a personal friend, he believed [Jobs] has what it takes to assume a high political position within the government, which in his opinion, honesty and integrity are not prerequisites to assume such a position,” reported the FBI agent who conducted the interview.
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At the time, in early 1991, the FBI was conducting a background search of Jobs because he was being considered for a position on the George H.W. Bush administration’s President’s Export Council. According to the Associated Press, he did eventually serve in that capacity.
As such, the background check was aimed at producing a general picture of Jobs and any possible personal problems that would embarrass the White House or render him unfit to serve the country.
The person who emerges from the 191 pages of the file is not dissimilar to the Jobs already depicted by the media after his death in October. But the FBI still managed to produce some surprising details that today humanize someone who was both a great visionary and an occasional nightmare to subordinates and competitors.
For instance, as we’ve already noted, his neighbors loved him. One gushed that just the previous day Jobs had paid a visit to make sure that his landscape work wasn’t intrusive. He came to neighbors’ dinners, jogged around a lot, and in general seemed like the sort of person who’d help you jump-start your car in the morning.
He Did Not Get Great Grades.
Today’s mediocre students should not all take comfort from this, however. At the same time, Jobs was already fooling around with computers and computer-oriented friends in a manner that in retrospect showed great promise. (Yes, Bill Gates dropped out of college, too. But it was already clear he was a genius of some sort.)
He Was Not a Joiner.
In his personal interview with the FBI, Jobs told the bureau that he was a member of no organization save the New York Athletic Club. But he added that he knew nothing about that club, or its membership policies, because he had never actually been there.