An idea conceived by Architect and founder Richard Saul Wurman in 1984 began the organisation that displayed new ideas in Technology, Entertainment and Design which became the main branches of focus and consequently the acronym it chose for its name. The format which continues today is that speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes in which they must engage the crowds (that began with attendances of around 800 people) in the most innovative way that they could think of. These early presentations were well sought after by tech giants such as Sony and Philips as their main crowds consisted of Silicon Valley big wigs, partly thanks to its location and content but also due to its $4000+ attendance fee. Innovators and game changers have constantly appeared on the TED stages however, here one of the first live demonstrations of the Apple Macintosh was available as well as the Compact Disc being on show. Annual conferences began occurring in 1990 to much success featuring leading names in a diversifying set of fields that stretch much further than its name suggests. The real innovation came in 2006 however, whereas before the conferences were only available to the few who could afford and attend the meetings, the new era of TED released their content out for free on the internet. Its slogan ‘Ideas worth spreading’ really came into its own as the coveted new technologies, studies, and research are all accessible to anyone with a screen. These educational gems are small digestible snippets of advice and up to date ideas from the greatest minds around the world, an opportunity that shouldn’t be stifled.
With Apple as an early indicator of the level of quality and broad appeal that has featured on the TED stage, the quality has not dipped but in fact expanded. Take tech deity and philanthropist Bill Gates, who has given several talks over the past decade regarding disease management, state budgets and education, yet his priceless ideas on new technology innovations towards a green future are no doubt the most insightful. In his 2010 presentation Gate’s talks us through the designs he is backing that he hopes will usher us out of disaster as a result of man made climate change. Similarly Elon Musk, the infamous owner of electric car company Tesla sits down with TED owner and creator Chris Anderson as he discusses his plans to change energy and transportation of the future into something more sustainable. TED technology is also a fantastic place to see examples of what is being developed in labs around the globe today, in Giada Gerboni’s talk about flexible robots she walks us through how a simple change in materials can alter the way we use autonomous helpers from play to surgery. Meron Gribetz live demo’s the Meta 2, an augmented reality headset on stage, showing viewers a brief look into what our world could look like if we all embraced the change. In another awe-inspiring display quantum physicist Boaz Almog shows what happens when a super conductor meets a frozen disk – he calls it quantum levitation – and is one of hundreds of groundbreaking technology demo’s available to watch now.