Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has resigned as chief executive of the company.
Mr Jobs, 55, who underwent a liver transplant following pancreatic cancer in 2009, said he could no longer meet his chief executive's duties and expectations.
The BBC reports he will become chairman of the company he co-founded in a garage in 1976.
Mr Jobs has been on medical leave for an undisclosed condition since 17 January. His often-gaunt appearance has sparked questions about his health and his ability to continue at Apple.
He briefly emerged on 2 March in San Francisco to unveil the latest version of the iPad.
Mr Jobs had held the position of chief executive for 14 years. He will be replaced by chief operating officer Tim Cook.
Following the announcement, Apple's stock slid 7% when it resumed trading afterhours.
In a statement, board member Art Levinson said:
''Steve's extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world's most innovative and valuable technology company.''
Analysts do not expect Mr Jobs' resignation will derail the company's plans, including possibly a new iPhone in September and a third iteration of the iPad tablet in 2012.
The BBC reports Mr Jobs is widely seen as the creative force that has driven Apple to become one of the world's biggest companies.
With innovative and hugely popular products such as the iPod, the iPhone and more recently the iPad, Apple is one of the most sought-after brands in the world.
In the three months to the end of June, the company made a profit of $US7.3 billion on revenues of $US28.6 billion.
It sold more than 20 million iPhones in the period and 9.25 million iPads.
Mr Jobs started Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976 and their Macintosh computers became hugely popular in the 1980s.
He left the company in 1985 after falling out with colleagues, only to return in 1996 and begin Apple's transformation by launching the colourful iMac computer.
The iPod, which revolutionised the personal music-player market and spawned myriad copycat devices, was launched in 2002 and lay the foundations for the company's success over the past decade.
Next came the iPhone, which similarly revolutionised the smartphone market, while the iPad confounded some initial scepticism to prove hugely popular.
After leaving Apple in 1985, Mr Jobs bought fledgling computer animation studio Pixar and founded NeXT, a computer company that built the sort of high-end products he had championed at Apple.
In 2006, Pixar was sold to Disney for $US7.4 billion.
The BBC reports Mr Jobs runs Apple with an iron fist and dictates even the smallest details about the company's products and strategy, translating his own personal values as a Buddhist and strict vegan into sleek, minimalist products.
However, despite a high profile, he has remained fiercely protective of his private life.
He married his wife Lisa in 1991, and the couple have three children.
Mr Jobs also has a daughter from a previous relationship, and as an adult discovered that he had a biological sister, novelist Mona Simpson.
In 2004 it was announced that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of pancreatic cancer.
Though the disease eventually went into remission, complications emerged and it later emerged that he underwent a liver transplant in 2008.