But in her upcoming memoir, Small Fry, Lisa Brennan-Jobs reveals that her father lied to her about the name up until she was 27, and it was U2 front man Bono who exposed the truth.
In the fascinating and emotional excerpt, published in the September issue of Vanity Fair, Brennan-Jobs discusses her complicated relationship with her famous father, who denied paternity until a 1980 DNA test proved otherwise.
As for the Lisa, it was a commercial failure, with 3,000 unsold computers later buried in a Utah landfill. When Brennan-Jobs bragged to her school friends about her namesake, they responded that they'd never heard of a computer called Lisa. But for Brennan-Jobs, the belief that it was named for her could bring her closer to the famous man who was, in some ways, more legend than family member.
When she was in high school, she finally asked him about it. "I tried to sound like I was curious, nothing more," she writes. "If he would just give me this one thing."
But Jobs denied it in a "clipped, dismissive voice," she says, adding, "Sorry, kid."
That was his claim until her father invited her on a yacht trip in the Mediterranean in the early 2000s, about five years before he died in 2011 of pancreatic cancer. They stopped by U2 founder Bono's villa in the South of France, where the singer himself confronted Jobs about the origin of the Lisa name.
After a long pause, her father finally admitted it was named for his daughter, and the truth helped Brennan-Jobs feel "a new power."
"That's the first time he's said yes," she told Bono. "Thank you for asking."
Small Fry will be published on Sept. 4 by Grove Press.
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