Visionary co-founder Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple, after admitting he could no longer meet his “duties and expectations” as chief executive.
Jobs has been on medical leave for an undisclosed condition since 17 January. He has a recent history of ill health, undergoing a liver transplant in 2009 following pancreatic cancer in 2004.
Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook replaces Jobs as CEO. Jobs remains as Chairman of the Board.
Cook had stood in for Jobs during his previous bouts of ill health.
Jobs’ quietly dramatic – although hardly unexpected – resignation came in the form of a short letter to “the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community”.
“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.
“I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
“As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
“I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.
“I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.
Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976, alongside technical whizz Steve Wozniak and pal Ronald Wayne. Woz designed the Apple I and Apple II computers but had little management responsibility and effectively left the company in 1987. Wayne left Apple after just two weeks, nervous that should the company fail he could not face being responsible for the debts.
Jobs was the key figure in the early success of Apple but sought older managerial counsel in 1983, appointing former Pepsi chief John Sculley as CEO. Two years later Jobs was forced to quit the company following a power struggle with Sculley, but not before he’d launched the innovatory Macintosh computer in 1984.
Jobs almost immediately founded NeXT Computer, which struggled but was eventually bought in 1996 by Apple for $429 million for its NeXTStep operating system that Apple used as the basis of its next-generation Mac OS X. While away from Apple Jobs also purchased Pixar, turning the small computer graphics company into the biggest movie animation studio – eventually selling the company to Disney for $7.4 billion in 2006.
On his return Jobs swiftly replaced Apple CEO Gil Amelio, becoming interim chief executive (or iCEO) in September 1997.
Since then, through the release of innovatory products such as the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad, Jobs has turned the company round from the brink of disaster to overtaking Microsoft in market capitalization and amassing $76.4 billion in financial reserves.