Tim Cook, an openly gay man, will helm Apple after the sudden resignation of tech visionary Steve Jobs.

Jobs, 56, who has battled pancreatic cancer in the past, notified Apple's board of directors of his decision on Wednesday.

“I hereby resign as CEO of Apple,” Jobs wrote. “I would like to serve, if the board sees fit, as Chairman of the board, director and Apple employee. As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.”

The board agreed, quickly elevating Cook to CEO. Jobs was elected chairman.

“The board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” Art Levinson, a board member, said in a statement.

In late 1997, Jobs returned to the company he co-founded with Steve Wozniak after he was booted from Apple in 1985. His return marked the start of an era of prosperity for the tech giant, which had been written off by Wall Street and most analysts. He revolutionized the industry with the introduction of the iPod and later shook up the cellular phone market with the dazzling iPhone.

Cook, a 13-year Apple veteran, in April was named America's most influential gay person by glossy Out.