Qualcomm's co-founder and former chairman and CEO, Irwin Jacobs, will retire from the mobile technology company's board next year, Qualcomm announced Tuesday.

Jacobs, 78, founded Qualcomm with six partners in 1985 and served as its CEO until 2005. He was chairman of the company from its founding until 2009, when he handed the reins to his son, current Chairman and CEO Paul Jacobs, but remained on the board.

He will step down from the board at Qualcomm's annual shareholder meeting next year. At that point, the company will give him the titles of founding chairman and CEO emeritus.

Qualcomm pioneered CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access), the cellular radio technology used by Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel for their primary 2G (second-generation) and 3G digital networks. The system is also used by carriers in other areas, such as South Korea, Japan, China and Latin America, but has played runner-up to the family of technologies called GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). However, CDMA technology helped to form the foundation of all 3G technologies.

The company is also a major vendor of processors for mobile phones, tablets and other devices using various mobile technologies. Its popular Snapdragon line of chips is expected to come out in quad-core versions next year.

Jacobs earned master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a professor at MIT before moving to the University of California, San Diego. He taught at UCSD from 1966 to 1972.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is [email protected]