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Steve Jobs FBI file: What did his neighbors think about him?

Steve Jobs FBI file readers will find some interesting nuggets, including what neighbors thought about his landscaping plans and evidence that most FBI agents aren't at all like Jack Bauer.

Steve Jobs of NeXT Computer Inc. poses for the press with his NeXTstation color computer at the NeXT facility in Redwood City, Calif., 21 years ago. Newly released FBI interviews conducted in 1991 were part of a background check for an appointment to the President's Export Council during George H.W. Bush's administration.

Ben Margot/AP/File

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The FBI released its Steve Jobs file on Thursday. Well, maybe “file” overstates the case – the bureau made public documents related to a background check of Mr. Jobs conducted in 1991, when President George H. W. Bush was considering him for a post on the President’s Export Council.

The dossier contains basic biographical information, interviews with friends and associates, and a check of his legal and financial record. Many people the FBI talked with praised him as visionary leader and strong personality. Others, not so much.

His abrasive style obviously made him some enemies. One woman said that Jobs’s initial success at Apple Computer provided him an enormous amount of power “but also at times caused him to lose sight of honor and integrity and even caused him to distort the truth at times to get his way.”

Having read all 191 pages of the file, here’s our quick reactions as to its contents:

THE NEIGHBORS LOVED HIM. Yes, the G-men went door to door in Mr. Jobs’s neighborhoods, asking whoever answered about that thin, intense guy who lived down the street. His immediate next-door neighbor in Silicon Valley in 1991 loved him, saying he was a “quiet and unassuming” individual who “never caused any problems” and who had even visited her last week “to ensure that some landscaping he was having done would not cause any problems with her and her husband.”

Such a nice boy! The FBI did not mention whether he baked her brownies.

Another neighbor said he “seemed to be a nice enough person,” while a third said they’d had Jobs over to dinner and that he was a vegetarian who neither smoked nor drank “and did a great deal of jogging.” Yet another said she was English and didn’t think she should comment on whether he was fit to work with the US government.


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