Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple, and the board has confirmed Tim Cook, previously Apple’s chief operating officer, as the new CEO. Jobs has been elected chairman of the board and Cook will join the board, effective immediately.

“Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company,” says Art Levinson, chairman of Genentech, on behalf of Apple’s board. “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.

“The board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” adds Levinson. “Tim’s 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.”

Jobs submitted his resignation to the board today and strongly recommended that it implement its succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO.

As COO, Cook was previously 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. He also headed Apple’s Macintosh division and played a key role in the continued development of strategic reseller and supplier relationships, ensuring flexibility in response to an increasingly demanding marketplace.

Jobs, with his friend Steve Wozniak, invented the Apple computer back in the 1970s, working out of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Centre. The computer is widely hailed as among the first personal computers on the market.

However, the company really took off with the launch of first the Lisa and then the Macintosh which introduced a novel graphical user interface that could be navigated with a mouse – heralding the move away from text- and command line-based operating systems and making the personal computer that much more personal.

Jobs briefly left Apple during the 1980s, setting up NeXT Computers, and Apple experienced a downturn. He returned to the struggling company and is credited with turning it around and making it an icon of fresh ideas and leading edge design.