DOCUMENT: Celebrity

Did "The Woz" Slag Steve Jobs In FBI Interview?

Bureau file includes scathing account of late tech titan

Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs FBI File

FEBRUARY 9--Did Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak provide the FBI with the most blistering assessment of Steve Jobs during a 1991 federal background check?

It sure seems that was the case based on an examination of Jobs’s 191-page FBI file, which was released today. The majority of the documents involve a 1991 bureau review of the business titan, who was being considered for an appointment to the President’s Export Council.

During the course of the FBI’s background check of Jobs, agents interviewed his friends, neighbors, and business associates. While most praised Jobs, a couple of acquaintances delivered critical appraisals.

In a March 1991 interview with an agent, one man (whose name has been redacted from the FBI documents) described Jobs as “an individual who was not totally forthright and honest and has a tendency to distort reality in order to achieve his goals.”

By comparison, the interview subject spoke of his own “high ethical standards,” while noting that Jobs “will twist the truth in order to achieve whatever goal he has set for himself.” The agent wrote that the man considered Jobs “to be a deceptive person.”

The man also told the FBI that he had heard reports from mutual friends--as well as Jobs himself--that he “freely used illicit drugs” like LSD and marijuana while in college. The source also provided the agent with details about how Jobs had fathered a daughter out of wedlock with his high school girlfriend, and how he had “mistreated” them by not providing support.

Despite the rough assessment, the man concluded that Jobs was qualified for the government post since “honesty and integrity are not prerequisites to assume such a position.”

The interview subject, who said he did not consider Jobs a personal friend, did not request confidentiality from the bureau, according to an FBI 302 report included in the Jobs file. The March 11, 1991 interview was conducted at the man’s office in Los Gatos, California.

The 61-year-old Wozniak, a longtime Los Gatos resident, worked at Apple until early-1987, nearly a dozen years after he and Jobs founded Apple.

At press time, TSG was waiting for the always forthright Wozniak to reply to messages sent to his e-mail account and Facebook page. According to Wozniak’s Twitter feed, he is currently traveling on a United Airlines flight from Mexico City to San Francisco, where he is due to arrive at 12:40 PM (Eastern).

Another FBI report memorializes a March 1991 interview with a former Apple colleague who declared that Jobs’s “moral character is suspect.” The man, however, noted that Jobs was “basically an honest and trustworthy person.”

While the interview subject’s name is redacted, other details in the report make it appear that he is engineer Daniel Kottke, a Reed College buddy of Jobs’s who became Apple’s 12th employee. Kottke, pictured at left, was famously passed over by Jobs when it came to awarding lucrative stock options prior to Apple going public in December 1980.

The interview subject, who was questioned in his Palo Alto home, told an FBI agent that he was no longer friends with Jobs and felt “bitter and somewhat alienated, based upon having to work for him at Apple.”  The man added that he “did not receive any stock as a result, which would obviously have made him quite wealthy now.”

The man also spoke of Jobs’s out-of-wedlock daughter and how the Apple boss had “basically abandoned” the girl and her mother.

In a TSG interview, Kottke said that while he could not recall being interviewed by the FBI as part of the Jobs background check, details in the FBI report squarely match up with him. “It’s me,” he repeated as a reporter read portions of the report dealing with his residence, employment, stock grievances, Apple tenure, disenchantment with Jobs, and overall opinion of the late billionaire.

A summary memo in the Jobs file reports that several individuals interviewed by the FBI "commented concerning past drug use on the part of Mr. Jobs," while several others questioned his honesty.

During a March 1991 FBI interview in the Redwood City office of NeXT Computer (which Jobs headed after leaving Apple in 1985), he acknowledged previously experimenting with marijuana, hashish, and LSD. Jobs noted, however, that he had not used any illegal narcotics during the prior five years.

His drug experimentation, Jobs reported, came during his high school and college years. Jobs added that he "never sold any drugs." (6 pages)