Steve Jobs: Kids' Names, Computer Names, Brand Names & The "Stupid Invented Acronym"
Steve Jobs was a taste-maker par excellence. Arguably, no one has had more of an impact on mass market design and style than he did. In what ways did his design-sense extend into names?
We could talk first about Apple, the brand name that caused such a stir when used by Gwynnie as a baby name. Jobs' own children--Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve--were given more conventional names, but they still have stories to tell.
Lisa: The earliest Apple computers were given girls' names for their code names: Annie, Sara, Diana. In 1978, Apple began working on a supercomputer code-named Lisa. Lisa was also the name of Jobs' daughter, born that year to his high school girlfriend, Chris-Ann Brennan. Despite the assumption that the computer was named for the baby girl, Jobs denied paternity of Lisa Brennan-Jobs for "years" until a paternity test proved he was her dad. (According to one bio, this "difficult situation" is why Steve was not named Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1982.)
When it came time to market the Lisa, the first commercial computer with a graphical (as opposed to text-based) interface, the marketing team hired folks to come up with something to replace the "internal code name" Lisa. They didn't like the suggestions, so they created a backronym, a "false, after-the-fact acronym" in the words of Laura Wattenberg. Officially, "Lisa" was said to stand for Local Integrated Software Architecture. Unofficially, Apple's developers called the computer "Lisa: Stupid Invented Acronym." Outside Apple, Let's Invent Some Acronym was also used.
Though he once swore that he could not be Lisa Brennan-Jobs' dad because he was sterile, Steve Jobs had three more children with his wife Laurene. Their names are:
Reed Paul: Reed was named after Reed College, the Oregon school Jobs attended, and after Jobs' adoptive father.
Erin Sienna: Her middle name is often written as Siena; she was born in 1995, and so before the mini-van brought exposure to the name.
Eve: Eve, from the Hebrew for "life" and the name of the first woman in the Bible, had fallen off the charts in 1984. In 1998, the year Eve Jobs was born, this elegant, simple name quietly re-appeared on the bottom of the charts. Whereas all Jobs' children have short names, Eve is even shorter, by a letter. And Eve--who was born after Jobs rejoined Apple in 1996--is also a quiet homage to her father's famous company. After all, in the words of Bruce Springsteen "They say Eve tempted Adam with an apple..."
Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve. As names, they are simple, pared-down, and user-friendly. Like the best Apple products.
As for Jobs' early bad boy antics? The first official biography of Steve Jobs is scheduled to come out in November. Jobs said, "I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of, such as getting my girlfriend pregnant at 23 and how I handled that. But I don't have any skeletons in my closet that can't be allowed out. "
What do you think of Steve Jobs' simple, user-friendly baby names?