It has been a long journey since Steve Jobs came up with the name Apple Computers but the company now known as Apple has become synonymous with the man.
Particularly over the past few years, it has been established that much of the creative process in the company seems to be driven by Jobs.
Pundits have often predicted that Apple will fail without having Jobs at the helm.
The genius behind Apple's success had taken leave for medical purposes twice before since he took over the company's CEO position in 1997.
In 2009, Jobs shocked many shareholders by announcing that his health issues were 'more complex than originally thought' without giving any specific details and said he would be taking a break for 6 months. The report came just a week after his comments that he was suffering from a 'hormonal imbalance' and would continue to be CEO.
The company announced that he would continue to be involved in all major strategic decisions, like he is expected to do so now.
Shareholders waited anxiously to see if he would return to his post in June 2009, though the company functioned fairly well in the duration.
However, when he reappeared in September to unveil Apple's new products, he received a standing ovation and media reports focused as much on how he looked as the products being unveiled.
Perhaps no other CEO in the world has garnered this much public attention.
There are only a handful of CEOs who are familiar to the general public. A person might not know the CEO of the bank that holds his mortgage, but he is definitely familiar with three people - Steve Jobs, who probably is responsible for his computer; Bill Gates - the arch rival of Apple, and now, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, the site on which both Apple and Microsoft users spend a lot of time.
Steve Jobs has been set apart from the start because of his close association with the creative parts of the company. Like the other two, he was responsible for creating the Apple computers initially.
As a visionary, he saw that computers could be much more than drab productivity tools, BusinessWeek wrote in an article after it was reported Jobs underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer.
But even geniuses cannot hold out against the board and he was ousted from the company in 1984 over some differences.
The company fared decently for the next decade or so, when Jobs was out creating NeXT, a computer platform development company, and heading PiXar Animation Studios before it was bought over by Disney.
But many of Apple's products -mainly computers - failed to sell. Some experts attributed this to Apple's lack of compatibility with other platforms. Some blamed poor marketing and publicity.
Whatever the explanation, shareholders were unhappy and when the company's shares touched a 12-year low in 1997, CEO Gil Amelio was removed and Jobs was reappointed as CEO during the restructuring.
Since then, Apple has become the second most valuable company. And much of it is based on the 55-year old's creative and management capabilities.
APPLE BEYOND JOBS
People flock to Apple's products despite problems. The latest iPhone 4 sold a record 1.7 million units in its first three days and the pace barely slowed down even after reports about certain problems with it surfaced.
Apple has matured from a niche user group to 'something for everyone with taste' segment.
Apple still has much potential to grow, particularly outside the U.S.
We expect Apple's busy product roadmap, impressive second-rung leadership and its Jobs-inspired culture of innovation to hold the company in good stead over the foreseeable future, Rajesh Ghai from ThinkEquity said in a note.
However, the company does face problems in terms of piracy, its closed approach to software and its price.
Whoever takes over CEO first needs to deal with a backlash of harsh judgment simply because the person is 'not Steve Jobs'.
Every decision taken will be under scrutiny by the media and by Apple fans, which will undoubtedly make the new CEO's job a lot tougher.
The new CEO needs to match Jobs' passion for Apple's products and creativity to keep the product line fresh and interesting - which is a constant challenge.
People are expecting the iPad 2, obviously improved and with fewer flaws and an iPhone 5 that will hopefully not have any more antennae issues, and also be wildly improved.
Apple has shrunk the size of its iPods to something smaller than a thumb, has combined the touchscreen, a music device and probably a mini computer. They also managed to achieve some other so-called impossibility - a laptop that is only about 0.16 inch thick, a computer in a tablet (sort of).
So at every Apple event, the question on everybody's mind is 'what next' and the answer better be something breathtaking. A considerable challenge for any CEO.