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The Kids of Business Icons: Lisa Brennan-Jobs

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Steve Jobs' first daughter, now a writer in New York, spent her childhood with a single mother and "didn't have many things."

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In 1976, at age 21, Steve Jobs co-founded Apple (AAPL) with $1,300 made from the sale of his Volkswagen minibus and partner Steve Wozniak's Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator. Two years later, the CEO gave birth to the Lisa computer, which was to redefine personal computing as the world knew it. That same year, a baby girl named Lisa was born to Chris-Ann Brennan, Jobs' on-again-off-again girlfriend since high school. Jobs not only insisted the computer's name was an acronym for "Local Integrated Software Architecture," he also denied any personal relation to the computer's alleged namesake.

The self-made entrepreneur who was just named Smartest CEO by Fortune magazine and has a ranking of 136 on Forbes' World's Billionaires list has been described as the king of the iGeeks, a visionary, a micromanager, a showman, and an arrogant blowhard. But to baby Lisa, Steve Jobs was and is, for better or worse, dad.

However, it took two years before Jobs would acknowledge that Lisa was his child, going so far as to swear in a court document that he was "sterile and infertile, and as a result thereof, did not have the physical capacity to procreate a child." While Jobs reaped the rewards of owning a burgeoning technology company, his baby and her artist mother subsisted on welfare.

Now 32, Lisa is a journalist and magazine writer with credits including The Southwest Review, The Massachusetts Review, Spiked, and O, The Oprah Magazine. She also writes essays for her personal blog. In an article for the February 2008 issue of Vogue called "Tuscan Holiday," she touched on her "illegitimate" childhood growing up with her mother:

In California, my mother had raised me mostly alone. We didn't have many things, but she is warm and we were happy. We moved a lot. We rented. My father was rich and renowned and later, as I got to know him, went on vacations with him, and then lived with him for a few years, I saw another, more glamorous world. The two sides didn't mix, and I missed one when I had the other.


In the article, Lisa recounted her time living in Italy when she parlayed an Italian vacation into a bonafide ex-pat life with a Florentine man from a wealthy family. She described how she struggled to assimilate into the decadent culture and lifestyle of a well-pedigreed family. It was in this "fairy tale" existence that Lisa was exposed to the moneyed reality in which servants were customary. "I'd found the beauty and ease [my mother and I] had dreamed of for so long," she wrote.

Steve Jobs did eventually claim paternity for his out-of-wedlock daughter and opened his home to her during her teenage years. He sent her to Harvard where she realized a flair for writing and earned her chops at the Harvard Crimson and The Harvard Advocate.

Today Jobs would be hard-pressed to deny paternity given Lisa's uncanny physical likeness to the Apple CEO (minus the jeans and black turtleneck wardrobe). While he now has a wife of nearly 20 years with whom he shares three "legitimate" children, Lisa reportedly maintains a close relationship with her father.

Having weathered her complicated upbringing and now living in New York as a professional writer, Lisa plants herself in the thick of promise. "In my life," she wrote in her blog last fall, "I am between landmarks: after childhood, before a book, before marriage and children, all potential."


UPDATE: Apple's Steve Jobs Has Died at 56

See also: A Perfect Summation of Steve Jobs

Return to this feature's main page: The Kids of Business Icons



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