“Nope. Sorry, kid.”
That was Steve Jobs’ dismissive reply to his eldest daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs, the child of Steve and his high school girlfriend Chrisann Brennan, when Lisa asked whether the desktop computer Apple released in the early 1980s called the Lisa was named after her.
She recounts that memory from her high school years in her forthcoming memoir “Small Fry,” which hits shelves Sept. 4, because she then connects it something that she remembers that happened later, when she was 27. Steve, who didn’t usually ask her to join him on vacations, had invited her to join a group that included her siblings on a yacht trip in the Mediterranean.
(These details come from an early adaption from the book published by Vanity Fair.)
Off the southern coast of France, Steve said they’d be making a stop to meet a friend for lunch. The boat was docked. Everyone was picked up in a van and driven to a villa owned by U2 lead singer Bono. They all had lunch on a balcony that looked out over the sea.
Bono asked a ton of questions about Apple, and then he asked that question. “So, was the Lisa computer named after her?”
Lisa braced for the answer. Steve looked down at his plate and then back at the singer. “Yeah, it was.”
Bono: “I thought so.”
Lisa later thanked Bono for asking Steve that question, but she naturally wondered about the answer, and the seeming about-face. “As if famous people needed other famous people around to release their secrets,” she writes.
That’s one indication her soon-to-be-published memoir is not a book Steve Jobs fanboys will likely enjoy, unless they can appreciate a more rounded, textured portrayal of the late Apple co-founder.
Another more painful memory for Lisa stems from the time she was staying overnight at Steve’s house while her mother took college classes in San Francisco. At one point, Lisa writes, she builds up the courage to ask a question lots of teenage kids ask their parents at one point. Whether she can borrow the car.
“Can I have it when you’re done?”
Steve asks what she’s referring to. This car. Your Porsche.
“Absolutely not,” Steve snapped at her, and then he dials it up to 11.
“You’re not getting anything. You understand? Nothing. You’re getting nothing.”
It was an imperfect relationship, to say the least, and it was particularly ironic that Steve appears to have had such a troubled relationship with his oldest daughter when he’d made clear on several occasions the pain he’d felt having been abandoned by his own biological parents.
The official line out of Apple was that its Lisa computer’s name stood for Locally Integrated Software Architecture. It was more complex than that to Lisa. She shared the name with a failed computer produced by a company run by a father who was distant and yet seemed to be unconsciously inspired by her.
During the last year or so of his life, she was there as his health faded. She’d given up on the possibility of some kind of “grand reconciliation,” but you get the sense from her writing that she still loved her father, in spite of everything.