Apple's Steve Jobs appears at a special media event at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif. Jobs founded Apple in 1976, along with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne.- Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images
The NeXT computer system is on display October 12, 1988 in San Francisco, Calif. At the end of May 1985, Steve Jobs left Apple after a power struggle with John Sculley. Jobs recruited Sculley from Pepsi-Cola to serve as Apple's CEO in 1983. After leaving Apple, Jobs founded the NeXT Computer corporation.- Photo by Liaison
In 1996, Apple bought NeXT for $429, bringing Jobs back to the company he co-founded. Here, Jobs speaks at a press conference on November 10, 1997 in Cupertino, Calif., where he announced plans to shake the company out of the financial doldrums.- John G. Maganglo/AFP/Getty Images
Here, Steve Jobs gives a keynote address at the Seybold San Francisco Publishing '98 Conference in San Francisco. To his left is the iMac personal computer. The original Getty description for this photo says it is "designed to facilitate Internet access." The iMac was released at midnight on August 15 for the public to purchase and was the largest campaign Apple had undertaken since the introduction of the original Macintosh back in 1984.- Monica M. Davey/AFP/Getty Images
In this photo from January 5, 2000, Apple's CEO and co-founder and Pixar Animation Studios CEO Steve Jobs demonstrates the Mac OS X, with graphics from the Pixar animated movie "Toy Story 2" during the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. In 1986, Jobs bought The Graphics Group from Lucasfilm's computer graphics division for the price of $10 million. The Graphics Group was later renamed Pixar.- John G. Mabanglo/AFP/Getty Images
Steve Jobs addresses the crowd during his keynote address in San Jose, Calif., at the World Wide Developer Conference in 2000. The visionary co-founder of Apple, Jobs is credited as being the driving force behind a series of products that have changed and revolutionized the consumer-electronics industry, including such innovations as the Macintosh computer line and the iPad.- John G. Mabanglo/AFP/Getty Images
In this photo from 2004, Steve Jobs holds a new mini iPod at Macworld in San Francisco. There, Jobs announced several new products including the new iLife 4 software and the Mini iPod. During his time at Apple, Jobs' innovations have revolutionized several industries -- like the music industry with the iPod and the cellular phone industry with the iPhone.- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
In this photo dated April 2, 2007 Steve Jobs poses during a photocall at EMI's offices in London. In mid-2004, Jobs announced that he had been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. On January 14, 2009 Jobs took a medical leave of absence to focus on his health. In April 2009, he underwent a liver transplant.- Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images
Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivers the keynote address at the 2011 Apple World Wide Developers Conference at the Moscone Center on June 6, 2011 in San Francisco, Calif. On January 17, 2011 Jobs announced he had been granted a medical leave of absence "so he could focus on his health." Despite the leave, he made an appearance at this event.- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Apple's new CEO Tim Cook sits with Steve Jobs at an event in 2007. On August 24, Steve Jobs stepped down as chief executive of Apple.- David Paul Morris/Getty Images
Steve Jobs steps down as CEO of Apple
Steve Jobs stepped down Wednesday as chief executive of Apple.
His resignation was confirmed by the company's board of directors in a press release. Tim Cook, previously Apple's chief operating officer, will step in as the company's new CEO.
"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," Jobs said in a public Letter to the board. "That day has come."
Jobs was elected Chairman of the Board after the announcement.
A long time coming?
In January, Jobs announced that he would take a medical leave of absence from Apple to focus on his health. He handed over the day-to-day operations to Cook, but said he would continue as CEO and be involved in "major strategic decisions."
True to his word, Jobs continued to be present for Apple's major product announcements since then, including the high-profile release of the iPad 2 and the company's iCloud launch.
Jobs has been publicly struggling with health issues for years, including recovering from a bout with pancreatic cancer. In July 2009 he took a six-month medical leave of absence for a liver transplant.
View an illustrated timeline of Apple's notable product releases and executive changes.
The future of Apple without Jobs
Some industry analysts have been considered what might come of Apple without Jobs at the helm. In an interview with the Marketplace Morning Report in January, Washington Post technology writer Cecilia Kang noted that Cook's lack of name recognition could be an issue for such a high-profile company.
"He's done a really great job in the past of taking over when Steve left for previous medical leaves. But people don't know his name. If you think of Apple do you ever think of Tim Cook?" she said.
Tim Cook takes over
Cook steps into the CEO role at Apple after 13 years at the company, during which time he was responsible for all of the company's worldwide sales and operations, including "end-to-end management of Apple's supply chain, sales activities, and service and support in all markets and countries," the company said in its announcement.