It's hardly a secret that Steve Jobs used to indulge in some recreational drug use back in the day. Indeed, Jobs once said that taking LSD was one of the "two or three most important things" he ever did in his life. A bold statement, to be sure, but Jobs credits his LSD experiences with opening up his mind and enabling him to see the world in a different light.
And now, thanks to recently released documents from the Department of Defense, we have a little bit more information about Jobs' proclivity for those eye-opening drugs he unabashedly credits for helping spark the creative within. The documents in question were handed over to Wired pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request and there are a few interesting talking points.
First, the background.
During the late 80's, when Jobs had been excommunicated from Apple and was running things at Pixar, he underwent a top secret security clearance check.
... according to Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, the Pixar clearance was required because of contracts Pixar signed with intelligence agencies to use its Pixar Image Computer for rendering information from reconnaissance flights and satellites.
As part of the clearance check, Jobs was asked how he might fall prey to blackmail, to which he responded that someone could kidnap his daughter in an attempt to blackmail him, but such an attempt would presumably be done for money and not any top secret information at Jobs' disposal..
With respect to his drug use, Jobs explained that he used LSD from 1972 through 1974.
"Throughout that period of time I used the LSD approximately ten to fifteen times," Jobs said. "I would ingest the LSD on a sugar cube or in a hard form of gelatin. I would usually take the LSD when I was by myself. I have no words to explain the effect the LSD had on me, although, I can say it was a positive life changing experience for me and I am glad I went through that experience.”
But LSD wasn't the only drug that Jobs had an affinity for way back when - it was the 70's after all.
Specifically, Jobs was also no stranger to smoking both marijuana and hashish, explaining that he used to smoke it with friends and even used to eat pot brownies. During the course of his DoD interview, Jobs said that the last time he got high was in 1977. Explaining the impetus behind his marijuana usage, Jobs said that it helped him relax and made him more creative.
All told, Jobs said that he used drugs anywhere from once a week to once a month during that time period.
Jobs also touched upon his days as a phone phreaker where he would make long-distance calls for free.
“The challenge," said Jobs, "was not that I could make long distance phone calls for free, but to be able to put a device together that could accomplish that task, I did not make a profit from what I considered this to really be a ‘project.’ At the age of approximately fourteen, it was a technical challenge, not a challenge to be able to break the law.”
You might recall the famous story, recounted by Jobs, of how he and Woz once called the Vatican and tried to get the Pope on the line.
With Wozniak doing his best imitation of Henry Kissinger, Jobs said, "We got the number of the Vatican and called the pope."
Their call went through, and the request from the man claiming to be the U.S. secretary of state began making its way through the hierarchy.
"They actually sent someone to wake up the pope," Jobs said, "when finally, we just burst out laughing, and they realized that we weren't Henry Kissinger. So, we never got to talk to the pope. But it was very funny."
Some other tidbits of note from the DoD clearance check.
- Jobs admitted to "previous bouts of depression"
- Jobs attributed his penchant for anger and quick temper to his quest for perfection.
Also, Jobs was apparently arrested in 1975 for failing to pay a speeding ticket, a fact he failed to disclose in his security clearance questionnaire.
Jobs said the arrest occurred in Eugene, Oregon, more than a decade earlier when he was being questioned by police for suspicion of possessing alcohol as a minor. The police discovered there was an outstanding arrest warrant for the unpaid ticket and apparently executed it on the spot. Jobs said he then paid the speeding fine, which was about $50, and that was the end of the matter. But he didn't consider it a real arrest that needed to be reported.
Interesting stuff, but it still doesn't top Bill Gates' famous arrest and subsequent mugshot.
In any event, this isn't the first time we've come across a governmental background check on Jobs. A few months ago we reported on details contained within an FBI background check done on Jobs in the early 90s.