TED Talks: History, Evolution and Success


If ever you have looked for inspiration, different ways to look at your problems with, new crazy technologies, or creative fuel on the internet, you can’t be familiar with this phenomenon called TED. The TED Talks have lit the Facebook up with a slight ray of hope amongst the filthy hateful political discussions. Whether it is science, art or just how memes affect pop culture, it probably is on TED already.

Looking at what it has become, it is very difficult to remember from where the TED started. It was not always this famous and successful. The shiny and slick TED talks that are being presented to you nowadays is not how it all started.  Earlier it had a messy format, but incomparably great speakers and talks. Here is how it all started in the first place.

History of TED Talks

First things first, if you think that the name of the creator is Ted, you are wrong. If the creator had named it after himself TED Talks would have been RICHARD Talks it does not have quite the same appeal nay? It was started in1984 by Richard Saul Wurman as a conference in Monterrey, California. The man is about 80-years-old and is said to be the Most Interesting Man in the entire world.

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Back in the year of 1984, Richard sensed the changing trends in the culture. He went to a guy named Marks, a guy who is said to be the Father of broadcast design, and together they started a new kind of conference, for the new age. It’s only for the good that rather than calling it ‘Richard’ or ‘Harry Richard’. They used what the cool kids are still doing, they used acronyms: TED; Technology, Entertainment and Design.

Hey, you know now!

Unlike today’s TED Talks which are carefully rehearsed and scripted, there were no speeches back in the days. The original idea of Richard was to start an ‘anti-conference’ – without dreary PPTs and sleep-enticing one-hour-long lecture. TED was not as big a deal as it is now. When it was set up by Richard and Harry, they were not in it because of money. They were just sick and tired of the old-white golf-playing dudes who wore suits and talked about finances.

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They wanted the TED to be like a fun dinner party and not a phoney gathering. They broke the rules and the norms, set up some ground rules, obliged their speakers to improvise. Richard was very particular about his agendas so if a speaker talked for way too long, if it was too boring, or if speakers flubbed their lines, Business Insider says that Richard actually used to go up the stage and kick them off.

TED was always Richard’s baby at every level. He picked the speakers, chose the order of speakers, even picked up food for them, did the sound, and designed the badges himself. The rawness, rebelliousness, and creativity resulted in the first ever TED to be a very intimate, impromptu conference, unlike anything the polite suit-wearing golf-playing old white dudes ever witnessed. It attracted some major figures of that era.

First Ever TED Talk

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The first TED Talk did not have any glamour. It was not a cinematic showpiece as it is now, it was more of a DIY than anything. It was studded with yet-to-be-discovered future stars from the field of tech, design, and entertainment.

Sony Corporation showed off the new funky circular thingy they called “compact disc digital audio’ in the big talk they gave. That was the time when CD’s were so new that people had to be told that they work only one side, unlike vinyl.

LucasFilm displayed some another level of cutting-edge 3-D graphics.

Benoit Mandelbrot, a mathematician talked about fractal geometry and mapping coastlines.

Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT Media Lab delivered a speech in which we predicted the future which was contained of touchscreens, ebooks, and voice recognition. Don’t forget we are talking about 1984!

Another revolutionary name which was involved with the first ever TED Talk was of Steve Jobs. Though he did not go up the stage but did bring 3 Macintoshes and let the people play around the beautiful futuristic machines.


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