Chrisann Brennan is an American painter and writer who is best known as the once-love flame of Apple founder, Steve Jobs. Lady love of the billionaire crown prince of Silicon Valley and the mother of his child, all of it may seem fancy and upbeat to common people but there were more layers in Brennan-Job relationship than anyone knew. Popularly labelling her relationship with him as ‘fire and ice’, Brennan and Jobs were as close together as they were poles apart. One moment, they were involved with each other and at the very next they seemed like being bored to death. Despite being in a relationship with him for years and even giving birth to his daughter, Jobs and Brennan never married. When Jobs started to concentrate his energy on Apple, Brennan became one of his rock solid pillars. She helped Jobs turn his vision into a reality. She even worked at the Shipping Department of the company and was also offered a position for designing blueprints, a position that she later declined due to her pregnancy. A passionate art enthusiast, Brennan currently works as a painter. In 2013, she came to limelight yet again with her memoir ‘The Bite in the Apple’ in which she wrote about Jobs, his relationship with her and his being a ‘brilliant misfit’ in social circle.
Childhood & Early Life
Chrisann Brennan was born on September 29, 1954 in Dayton, Ohio to James Richard Brennan and Virginia Lavern Rickey. She was one of the four daughters of the couple. Chrisann was named after the flower chrysanthemum.
As a child, Chrisann was a dyslexic. This made her a little different from her peers. She was creative but weird. She was a bright student but did not conform to conventionality.
In her early years, Chrisann’s family was constantly on the move. They lived in a number of places including Colorado Springs and Nebraska before settling in Sunnyvale, California. After her parents divorced, Chrisann, along with his mother, moved to Buffalo, New York.
She attended Homestead High School in Cupertino, California. It was here that she first met Steve Jobs. After completing high school, she enrolled for an arts class.
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In early 1975, Chrisann Brennan became involved with a Zen Buddhist community in Los Altos. By then, she wasn’t in regular contact with Steve Jobs who had gone to India briefly but was back. It was at the community service program that she met Jobs again. Together, the two worked with Zen master Kobun.
Meanwhile, she enrolled at the Foothill College where she took up a program under Gordon Holler. Jobs, on the other hand, was chiefly working with Kobun and Woz. She then went on a trip to India.
Upon returning from India, Chrisann Brennan visited Jobs. During this time Jobs was working on the first prototype of an Apple computer. The couple spent more time together working on the device. They stayed together at Duveneck Ranch, where she took up a post of a teacher for inner city children.
Apple’s success story complicated their relationship further. They were like fire and ice – melting for each other at one time and icy cold at the very next. To break the extreme intensity between the two, they shared the house with Daniel Kottke.
Apple had become a revolutionary company and was gaining prominence globally. Chrisann who looked for a career in arts, gave up that and instead took up a position at Apple in the Shipping Department. Her profile included testing, assembling, and shipping Apple IIs along with Richard Johnson and Bob Martinengo. Meanwhile, she did not give up on her art passion completely and pursued a course at De Anza College.
Chrisann Brennan was offered an internship program which was designing blueprints for Apple. However, she turned down the offer due to her pregnancy. She left Apple. With no means to survive, she started cleaning houses to earn money. She continued her work with Zen meditation.
While Apple made Steve Jobs a millionaire, Chrisann worked as a labour. She waited tables at Palo Alto. In the late 1980s, she finally decided to finish her formal education. She studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts, the tuition fees of which was paid by Jobs.
In 1989, Chrisann Brennan was transferred to the San Francisco Art Institute. Currently, she works as a painter in Monterey, California. She mostly works for private or corporate parties.
In 2013, she came up with a memoir, ‘The Bite in the Apple: A Memoir of My Life with Steve Jobs’. Published by St Martin’s Press, the book was averagely received by the public. It showcased Brennan’s fire-n-ice relationship with Jobs and the birth of their daughter.
Chrisann Brennan may have gained limelight due to her relationship with Silicon Valley honcho, Steve Jobs, but there is definitely more to her life than just being his love interest. An accomplished painter, she has done a bevy of works including the murals created for the Ronald McDonald House, Los Angeles County Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and Packard Children’s Hospital. She has also written a memoir on his life, ‘The Bite in the Apple’ which gained her limelight and attention.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1972, Chrisann Brennan first met Steve Jobs who was her senior. Jobs graduated from Homestead the same year. Following that, he rented a house where the two lived. Jobs then enrolled at Reed College.
A year later, in 1973, Jobs dropped out of college. Meanwhile, Chrisann who was in her senior year passed out of Homestead. With no plans to attend college, she enrolled for an arts class. Despite Jobs’ persistence to live with him in the same house, she did not agree and the two lived apart. While Jobs started seeing other women, Chrisann too was interested in someone else. But amidst all this, they couldn’t break the connection.
Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs had a complicated relationship. They neither committed to each other nor broke up. They were living their separate ways – Brennan taking up odd jobs as a baby sitter or salesgirl and Jobs working around West Coast. Despite growing apart and continuously seeing other men and women, they remained involved with each other as well.
In 1975, Chrisann was briefly involved with Job’s former classmate Greg Calhoun. They even stayed together and travelled to India. However, their relationship turned sour and after returning from the trip they separated.
Upon returning from India, Chrisann visited Jobs. It was during this time that love blossomed between the two yet again. They were extremist couple – all lovey-dovey at one time and cold and distant at the other.
It was during the early success years of Apple that Chrisann became pregnant with Job’s child. He was unwilling to accept the new responsibility and she was double-minded to go for an abortion. Finally, she decided to give birth to the baby.
On May 17, 1978, at the age of 23, she gave birth to her daughter, Lisa. Though Jobs wasn’t keen on taking up the responsibility, he named his new invention Apple LISA (Local Integrated Software Architecture). With no help from Steve Jobs, Chrisann single-handedly raised Lisa. Steve Jobs initially denied paternity of the child but when the DNA test confirmed the paternity, he accepted the child and agreed to give monthly maintenance to Chrisann. Over the years, the father and daughter developed a cordial relationship.