Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs’ daughter Lisa is born

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Lisa Brennan-Jobs
Jobs had a rocky relationship with his daughter.
Photo: Lisa Brennan-Jobs/Wikipedia CC

June 17 Today in Apple history June 17, 1978: Steve Jobs’ first child, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, is born.

The child of 23-year-old Jobs and his high school girlfriend Chris-Ann Brennan, Lisa’s parents are no longer a couple when she is born. What follows are several shameful years in which Jobs denies paternity of his daughter, before they eventually reconcile.

Lisa was born on Robert Friedland’s All One Farm commune outside of Portland, Oregon, where Jobs briefly worked. By the time she was born, Jobs was working at Apple. He refused to acknowledge paternity, even after a blood test concluded that Jobs had a 94.4% chance of being the father.

Steve Jobs denies paternity

With Apple still in its embryonic stages, Jobs agreed to pay $385 per month in child support. This figure increased to $500 per month after Apple went public and Jobs became a multimillionaire. (He also covered Lisa’s health insurance.)

Eventually, Jobs matured and apologized for his past actions. He developed a strong relationship with his daughter. And when he passed away in 2011, he left her a multimillion-dollar inheritance. Lisa was one of the only people who turned down Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson for an interview for his 2011 biography, Steve Jobs.

She later shared her story with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who used it as the emotional throughline for his screen adaptation of Isaacson’s book. In the movie, actresses Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo and Makenzie Moss portray Lisa at different ages.

Lisa went on to study at Harvard University, where she wrote for The Harvard Crimson. She’s since written for The Southwest Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Harvard Advocate, Spiked, Vogue and O, The Oprah Magazine. Last year, she released a memoir about her time growing up. (It just came out in paperback.)

Naming the Lisa computer

auction
The Lisa was one of Apple’s more notorious flops.
Photo: Auction Team Breker

For Apple fans, perhaps the best-known anecdote about Lisa relates to the naming of the company’s ill-fated 1983 Lisa computer. At the time, Steve Jobs denied that he named the machine after Lisa Brennan. He was in the middle of a paternity lawsuit, and such an admission certainly would have hurt his case.

Instead, Jobs claimed that “Lisa” stood for “Local Integrated System Architecture.” Aware of the full story, some Apple engineers joked that the name should stand for “Let’s Invent Some Acronym” instead.

Eventually, Jobs admitted that he named the computer after Lisa, just as he admitted that she was, in fact, his daughter. In the official biography, Jobs told Isaacson, “obviously it was named for my daughter.”

Here in 2019, only 30 to 100 of the original Lisas are thought to still exist — which is why they go for good money at auction.