FBI memos paint Steve Jobs as reality-distorting visionary

Steve Jobs

FBI background interviews of some people who knew Apple co-founder Steve Jobs reveal a man driven by power and alienating some of the people who worked with him.

In the FBI documents released Thursday, many of those who knew Jobs praised him, speaking highly of Jobs' character and integrity and asserting that he always conducted his business dealings in a reputable manner. They recommended him for a post during the George H.W. Bush administration.

The 1991 interviews were part of a background check for an appointment to the President's Export Council.

The Commerce Department confirmed Thursday that Jobs did serve on the council during the first Bush administration.

Export council members serve in an unpaid capacity and meet at least twice a year, advising the president on trade policy.

One person told FBI agents the Apple co-founder's enormous power caused him to lose sight of honesty and integrity, leading him to distort the truth.

Another interview subject described Jobs to the FBI as a deceptive person -- someone who was not totally forthright and honest and as having a tendency to distort reality in order to achieve his goals.

However, one former business associate who had a falling out with Jobs said that, while honest and trustworthy, Jobs nonetheless had questionable moral character.

The ex-business associate said he had not received stock that would have made him a wealthy man and that he felt bitter toward Jobs and felt alienated from him.

"Jobs alienated a lot of people at Apple Computer Inc. as a result of his ambition,'' an FBI agent wrote in an interview summary.

Two people associated with Jobs at Apple told the FBI that Jobs possessed integrity as long as he got his way. They did not elaborate, the FBI agent wrote.

Previously known parts of Jobs' life surfaced in the FBI interviews.

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