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Steve Jobs Takes Medical Leave Of Absence From Apple, Inc.

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“I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can,” Jobs wrote in Monday’s note to employees. “In the meantime, my family and I would deeply appreciate respect for our privacy.”

With that message to employee’s, Apple, Inc. CEO Steve Jobs, 55, began his second medical leave of absence in two years raising serious questions about his health and the leadership of a company at the forefront of a personal computing revolution.

Apple has a history of extreme secrecy when it comes to the iconic CEO’s health, disclosing major illnesses only after the fact. Divulging the true nature of Steve Jobs leave after successful cancer treatment (2004) and a liver transplant (2009).

The company announced Jobs’ leave a day before the company is set to report quarterly earnings. U.S. stock markets were closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Jobs has been instrumental in turning Apple into the dominant producer of portable music players, a leader in the smart phone business and, with the iPad, the inventor of a new category of modern tablet computers.

He is Apple’s public face, its master showman and its savior since he returned in 1997 after a 12-year hiatus to rescue the company from financial ruin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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