Posted on Vanity Fair by the author herself, the article “Growing Up Jobs” introduces readers to Steve Jobs’ eldest daughter and her troubled relationship with the tech tycoon. Adapted from her upcoming book, Small Fry, she tells the story of Steve’s rejection of her. Even when they did interact, the encounters she describes are far from loving.
Despite being the first of his children, Lisa Brennan-Jobs received very little from her father. Even though he swore on his lack of paternity, he still flew out to help Chrisann Brennan pick out a name when she was born in 1978. When he was later taken to court for refusing to pay child support, he denied being her biological father entirely.
After a blood test proved his relationship to Lisa, he relented and paid $500 a month plus medical insurance. He paid her visits after that, the first taking place when she was just 3-years-old. Days after that meeting, he became a rising star in the tech industry.
“You know who I am?” he asked, according to Lisa Brennan’s memoir. “I’m your father. I’m one of the most important people you will ever know.”
Lisa describes her childhood frankly. Her mother worked jobs cleaning and waitressing, and they moved frequently, staying at friends’ houses and temporary sublets. Once a month her father would visit, pulling his black Porsche convertible into their driveway.
At one point, Lisa asked him if he would pass the car onto her once he was finished with it.
“Absolutely not,” he told her. “You’re not getting anything. You understand? Nothing. You’re getting nothing.”
Earlier in her childhood, Lisa learned that she was the namesake to a computer. The Apple Lisa was a failed model, one that Steve Jobs himself abandoned to develop the highly successful Macintosh. Lisa attached herself to this, basing her identity around the concept.
“He was famous; he drove a Porsche,” she wrote. “If the Lisa was named after me, I was a part of all that.”
Later, when she was in high school, Lisa asked her father if the computer was actually named after her. He told her no, adding a dismissive “sorry, kid” to the statement. A decade later while on a vacation in the Mediterranean, U2 singer Bono asked Steve if the Apple Lisa was named after his first daughter. Lisa, who had tagged along for the trip, sat up.
“Yeah,” Steve replied, “it was.”
Lisa Brennan-Jobs maintained a relationship with Steve for the rest of his life. While it was not one of a father and daughter, she continued visiting him up until his death in 2011. She shares these stories and many more in Small Fry, which will be published September 4, 2018.