David Kottke, an early Apple employee and college friend who used to drop acid with Steve Jobs, once had a thriving friendship with the iconic Apple founder until he accidently revealed a personal secret to the press that Jobs wished would stay in the closet.
Kottke worked in the garage that Apple started in as a technician testing circuit boards. At the time, he was also living with Jobs and his then-girlfriend Chrisann Brennan, the woman who would later become the mother of Job’s first daughter.
In 1983, Jobs authorized Time Magazine reporter Michael Moritz to write and book about himself and the company. Jobs gave Moritz access to many of Apple’s first employees including Kottke. After a series of questions, Moritz called Kottke for one last question:
“I get one final call from him: ‘Could you clarify a question for me? Is it true that Steve has a daughter named Lisa? I did not really hesitate … My answer was, ‘Yeah sure he has a daughter named Lisa.’ I really did not know he was denying it.”
When Jobs found out that Kottke revealed he had a daughter, he became furious. Kottke recalled:
“I didn’t even understand why he was so upset. I didn’t even know he was publicly denying he was the father.”
Kottke explained that Jobs threatened to fire him in front of a dozen Macintosh employees saying that he violated his privacy. In 1984, the very next year, Kottke left Apple.
However, Kottke and Jobs’ friendship began to crack years before in 1979 when Jobs decided not to give Kottke any stock in the company before it went public, the reasoning being that Kottke was a technician and technicians were ineligible to receive stock options.
Fortunately, co-founder Steve Wozniak found it in his heart to gift Kottke a small amount of Apple stock. Unfortunately for Kottke, his memories of his bromance with Jobs still hurt to this day:
“Steve treated me badly — it was traumatic in my life, but I was also very happy to work at Apple. Would I do it all over again? Well that’s a complicated question.”
In Aaron Sorkin’s latest film “Steve Jobs,” there is a scene that depicts Jobs arguing with Brennan where he says, “Dan Kottke decided to kidney punch me.”