Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs tendered his resignation as the chief executive officer of Apple today, bringing an end to his more than 14 years in the role.

“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,” he wrote in a letter to Apple’s board of directors today. “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.”

He recommended that Tim Cook, Apple’s COO, be promoted to take over him, as was previously planned. Apple has taken the advice, naming him the company’s new CEO.

“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,” Jobs’ letter continued. “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.”

“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” said Apple board member Art Levinson. “Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”

Jobs was one of the original founders of Apple in 1976 along with Steve Wozniak. He played a prominent role in the creation of the Apple II series line of computers in the late 1970s before parting ways with Apple in 1984. He then went on to form computer company Next and purchased The Graphics Group in 1986, now known as Pixar. Next ended up being acquired by Apple in December of 1996, bringing Jobs back to the employer which he had resigned from more than a decade earlier.

Steve Jobs

Shortly thereafter, he assumed the role of CEO in 1997, albeit in the capacity of an “interim” CEO. He remained in this state of limbo until 2000, when he officially became the permanent CEO, a job that famously pays him only $1 per year. He owns a great deal of stock in Apple, as well as in Disney as a result of that company’s acquisition of Pixar in 2006. This year’s Forbes billionaires list had him pegged as the 110th richest person in the world with an estimated value of $8.3 billion.

Apple has thrived under Jobs between the continued success of the iMac, iPod, iPad, and iPhone, the latter two of which have become increasingly prominent gaming platforms. The company’s value recently eclipsed that of Exxon Mobil, making it the world’s most valuable company. This came just about a year after it surpassed Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable technology company.

Apple’s stock price has been up this week, closing today at $376.18. Jobs’ sudden resignation could cause a major drop to take place tomorrow, although it’s worth noting he has been forced to take a medical leave of absence three times in the past decade, first in 2004 to deal with pancreatic cancer, and again in 2009 for a liver transplant. His most recent leave began this past January and has been ongoing, although it didn’t stop him from appearing at several Apple events this year.

By Chris Pereira