The mother of Steve Jobs' first child - the high school girlfriend who says she shared LSD with Jobs on the stairwell of a building at Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. - describes in a book released Tuesday how the Jobs she knew went from a sweet and brilliant teenager to power-hungry tech titan.
The mother of Steve Jobs’ first child — the high school girlfriend who says she shared LSD with Jobs on the stairwell of a building at Homestead High School in Cupertino, Calif. — describes in a book released Tuesday how the Jobs she knew went from a sweet and brilliant teenager to power-hungry tech titan.
“I knew the young man who was funny and thoughtful. … And I saw firsthand how he changed and changed and changed again as he learned to make use of and misuse power,” Chrisann Brennan writes in “The Bite in the Apple: A Memoir of My Life With Steve Jobs,” published by St. Martin’s Press.
Brennan offers a lover’s intimate view of Jobs, starting with her vantage point as a 17-year-old girl infatuated with her ambitious Homestead classmate. Their relationship continued for years as Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple, but grew tempestuous as Jobs later captured the imagination of the world.
“I never thought of Steve as having serious mood swings because they were so mild back then,” Brennan writes of her early years with Jobs. “But after he became the Steve Jobs the world would know, I would hear about the extremes other people witnessed.”
Brennan was a high school junior when she met a 17-year-old Jobs in 1972 and they moved into a cabin in Cupertino for that summer. They were on again and off again for several years, and Brennan gives no specific date for when they broke up. But after the birth of their daughter in 1978 — about two years after the founding of Apple — they remained in each other’s lives for years, she writes, in an on-and-off relationship.
As Apple’s success grew, she writes, Jobs became more critical and dismissive of her, and the couple frequently fought or didn’t speak. He was “kind and he was mean and he was attentive and he was aloof. Sometimes he did not return my calls, and other times he called constantly. And those mixed messages played havoc with my instincts.”
Other than their daughter, Lisa, few are spared Brennan’s critical analysis. In a meandering narrative, she takes shots at Jobs’ family, later girlfriends, work associates and spiritual guides as they dealt with his growing power and sense of self-entitlement, which Brennan says often exploded into blistering verbal attacks.
While parts of the book are impossible to verify because they involve intimate interactions only Brennan and Jobs were witness to, other parts, such as Jobs’ initial refusal to acknowledge Lisa, are well established.
In 1983 Time magazine used its “Man of the Year” issue to instead honor the computer as the “Machine of the Year” and interviewed Jobs, who told the magazine that “28 percent of the male population in the United States could be the father” of Lisa.
“Steve had long before figured out that numerical detail fascinates the mind,” Brennan writes. “And he was like a magician: good at creating distractions. In that article Steve had also said that he had named the Lisa computer after an old girlfriend. This of course was a fabrication. He had no old girlfriends named Lisa. It was typical of Steve.”
Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
Jobs later admitted Lisa was his daughter and she is now known as Lisa Nichole Brennan-Jobs.
In October 1977, nine months before Lisa was born on May 17, 1978, Brennan writes that “I could no longer endure an intimate relationship with Steve. I got ‘reliable’ birth control as the first of many steps to get out and away.” Instead, she ended up pregnant and they struggled to figure out their relationship.
Layered over Brennan’s narrative are the couple’s back stories. She writes that Jobs’ abandonment by birth parents drove his ambition and later affected discussions about whether to abort their baby or offer her up for adoption. She said she frequently dealt with Jobs’ anger and sullenness by relying on coping tools she sharpened while being raised by her own mentally ill mother.
Throughout the stories of breakups — and attempts at reconciliation — it appears that Brennan loved Jobs and wondered what their life could have been like. At one point, Brennan writes that their love was so “profound” that 15 years later, while Jobs was married, he called to thank Brennan for the sex they shared, which included a session in his parents’ backyard storage shed that Jobs lived in after dropping out of Reed College in Oregon.
Brennan, who trained as an artist, now lives in Monterey, Calif., and to this day struggles to understand her years with the mercurial genius, who died in 2011.
“We live in a time of multiple narratives,” Brennan writes. “That’s a good thing because the collective wisdom is served by hearing different sides of a single story. I’m all for it, even if I’m still figuring it out myself.”
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