Fortune's veteran technology writer Brent Schlender was leaving the magazine that December,
and his swan song was to be a joint interview with Jobs, Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Michael Dell.
It had been hard to organize, and just a few days before it was to happen, Jobs called to back out.
"If they ask why, just tell them I'm an asshole," he said.
Gates was annoyed, then discovered what the health situation was.
"Of course, he had a very, very good reason," said Gates. "He just didn't want to say."
That became more apparent when Apple announced on December 16 that Jobs was canceling his scheduled appearance at the January Macworld,
the forum he had used for big product launches for the past eleven years.
The blogosphere erupted with speculation about his health, much of which had the odious smell of truth.
Jobs was furious and felt violated. He was also annoyed that Apple wasn't being more active in pushing back.
So on January 5, 2009, he wrote and released a misleading open letter.
He claimed that he was skipping Macworld because he wanted to spend more time with his family.
"As many of you know, I have been losing weight throughout 2008," he added.
"My doctors think they have found the cause -- a hormone imbalance that has been robbing me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy.
Sophisticated blood tests have confirmed this diagnosis. The remedy for this nutritional problem is relatively simple."