Jobs began pushing for a portable music player in the fall of 2000,
but Rubinstein responded that the necessary components were not available yet. He asked Jobs to wait.
After a few months Rubinstein was able to score a suitable small LCD screen and rechargeable lithium-polymer battery.
The tougher challenge was finding a disk drive that was small enough but had ample memory to make a great music player.
Then, in February 2001, he took one of his regular trips to Japan to visit Apple's suppliers.
At the end of a routine meeting with Toshiba,
the engineers mentioned a new product they had in the lab that would be ready by that June.
It was a tiny, 1.8-inch drive (the size of a silver dollar)
that would hold five gigabytes of storage (about a thousand songs), and they were not sure what to do with it.
When the Toshiba engineers showed it to Rubinstein, he knew immediately what it could be used for.
A thousand songs in his pocket! Perfect. But he kept a poker face.
Jobs was also in Japan, giving the keynote speech at the Tokyo Macworld conference.
They met that night at the Hotel Okura, where Jobs was staying.
"I know how to do it now," Rubinstein told him. "All I need is a $10 million check."
Jobs immediately authorized it.
So Rubinstein started negotiating with Toshiba to have exclusive rights to every one of the disks it could make,
and he began to look around for someone who could lead the development team.