“Unfortunately, that day has come,” he added.
Current Apple COO Tim Cook has been named his successor. Jobs will become chairman of the board of directors.
Whether or not his health played a role in his decision to step down is unclear, though likely. In January, Jobs took a medical leave of absence, leaving Cook in charge of day-to-day operations.
Apple’s string of successes will continue in a post-Jobs world, but the sustainability of Apple’s phenomenal success without the visionary leader has been a serious question for investors and consumers alike. Jobs is largely credited with reviving Apple, taking it from a bankrupt underdog to the world’s most valuable company in a little over a decade, with the launch of revolutionary products such as the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
Ending his letter, Jobs concluded on an optimistic note.
“I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it,” he said. “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.”
Here’s a look back at some of our earlier coverage of Steve Jobs and his reign at Apple.