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FBI memos paint Jobs as driven, reality-distorting visionary

The main Apple Inc website featuring Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is seen on an iPhone in this photo illustration taken in Central Sydney
The main Apple Inc website featuring Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is seen on an iPhone in this photo illustration taken in Central Sydney

(Reuters) - Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, hailed as one of the greatest technology visionaries of his generation, dabbled in illicit drugs in his youth and alienated colleagues yet commanded universal respect, according to interviews conducted by the FBI in the 1990s.

A series of interviews with friends and associates -- whose names were redacted by the bureau -- painted a familiar picture of a technology visionary who intimidated associates and insisted on getting his way, but whose drive and vision inspired admiration.

The FBI in 1991 began questioning Jobs and associates as the increasingly high-profile CEO of Next Inc began to be considered as a candidate for sensitive, presidential appointments.

Jobs himself admitted in a 1991 interview, days before his wedding, that he had experimented with hashish and LSD in his youth.

According to the FBI, other interviewees called into question his personal integrity and said that he was difficult to work with -- no surprise to those familiar with a life story that emerged over the decades of an intensely private individual.

Yet the majority of those interviewed recommended Jobs as fit for government.

"Several individuals questioned Mr. Jobs' honesty stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals," the FBI wrote in a summary.

Jobs died in October after a years-long struggle with cancer. He was recognized for his enormous impact on the media, music and technology industries through such innovations as Apple's iPod and iPhone.

For the full set of FBI memos, released under the Freedom of Information Act, see: http://vault.fbi.gov/steve-jobs/steve-jobs-part-01-of-01/view

(Reporting By Edwin Chan and Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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