George Parker: Steve Jobs, the not-so-family man

This week sees the publication of “Small Fry,” the tell-all book by Steve Jobs’ first daughter, Lisa, and her less than fortunate experiences with a father that refused to acknowledge her for years, even though DNA tests proved conclusively that she was indeed his daughter. Her mother existed for years on welfare and food stamps as Jobs refused to pay a penny in child support, whilst starting to accumulate his multi-billion fortune.

He also claimed that he had named the forerunner of the Mac, the Lisa, not after his unacknowledged daughter, but that it was some random name he had picked out of a hat.

I have a tenuous connection to this saga… Let me explain. Back in the early eighties I was freelancing on the launch of the Lisa, which at the time was an amazing breakthrough in desktop computing – unfortunately, it bombed. Perhaps the $10,000 price tag had something to do with it. In today’s dollars that would be about a billion big ones. During the launch period, we were all instructed to meet for a three day “Off-Site” down at Pajaro Dunes on Monterey Bay. This was back in the day when the entire Apple payroll would fit in a fleet of school buses.

The highlight of the event was when Steve gave his gung-ho speech on the first day. After the usual bullshit about how we were going to change the world, Steve announced that he would like to recognize the efforts of certain people… Stan Smith, c’mon up here… He then praised Stan for working 80 hour weeks and driving his wife to leave him. He did the same for a couple of other Apple warriors.

Then he called on Jim Jones to come up. Jim bounded up the stairs and beamed in anticipation of the accolades that would soon be heaped on him. Jim, said Steve, you are the biggest fuck up I have ever had the misfortune to work with… You’re fired. The silence was stunning.

Then Steve said… And let’s have a big hand for Alex, who has been working 90 hour weeks and his wife has committed suicide. OK, I made the last bit up, but you get my drift.

What a wanker.

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About George Parker

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George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, Confessions of a Mad Man, makes the TV show Mad Men look like Sesame Street.