Lisa Brennan Jobs, the oldest daughter of Steve Jobs’ is coming out with her first book next month. Part of the story grapples with her complicated relationship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs who denied being Lisa’s father at first.
In an excerpt from Small Fry posted today, Lisa gives glimpses into some of Steve Jobs’ last months. She also talks about it affected her psyche that Steve named the Lisa computer after her but didn’t admit it to her until she was 27.
Lisa reveals in the chapter posted by Vanity Fair that she was given her name after her parents flipped through a baby-name book while laying out in a field with her on a blanket. Apparently, the couple couldn’t agree on a name at first, but when Chrisann Brennan suggested Lisa, Steve Jobs said it was the one.
Naming the computer after Lisa
The name would later be used for Apple’s Lisa Computer. It was the first personal computer with a graphical interface, pushing computers into the mainstream. The product was a flop because it was too overpriced. Steve Jobs abandoned the team to work on the Macintosh, which took some of the Lisa Computers best elements — like the mouse — and put it on the Macintosh.
Instead of admitting the computer was named after his daughter, Jobs said Lisa stood for Locally Integrated Software Architecture.
“The idea that he’d named the failed computer after me was woven in with my sense of self, even if he did not confirm it, and I used this story to bolster myself when, near him, I felt like nothing. I didn’t care about computers—they were made of fixed metal parts and chips with glinting lines inside plastic cases—but I liked the idea that I was connected to him in this way. It would mean I’d been chosen and had a place, despite the fact that he was aloof or absent. It meant I was fastened to the earth and its machines. He was famous; he drove a Porsche. If the Lisa was named after me, I was a part of all that.
I see now that we were at cross-purposes. For him, I was a blot on a spectacular ascent, as our story did not fit with the narrative of greatness and virtue he might have wanted for himself. My existence ruined his streak. For me, it was the opposite: the closer I was to him, the less I would feel ashamed; he was part of the world, and he would accelerate me into the light.
Bono to the rescue
Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper old Apple story if there wasn’t a random cameo from Bono. The U2 singer played a role in Steve Jobs finally admitting to naming the computer after Lisa.