*Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Inc. and driving force behind a string of products that revolutionized the consumer-electronics industry, stepped down as chief executive on Wednesday.

His departure from the CEO post had been widely anticipated ever since Jobs took an extended medical leave earlier this year to attend to undisclosed health reasons. He underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer seven years ago and had a liver transplant two years ago.

Though widely expected, the announcement threw the future of the technology juggernaut into flux, given Jobs’ deep personal association with Apple’s most successful innovations, including the Macintosh computer line, the iPod portable music player and the iPhone smartphone.

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