Playlist TED Conferences

A look at TED, from 1984 through the present

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

JR-in-TED-lettersThe first TED was held in 1984, the year George Orwell imagined in his classic novel. The second was held in 1990. In 2006, TED Talks were offered online for the first time, free to anyone across the world who wanted to watch. In 2009, TED moved to its current home in Long Beach, California.

As we prepare for TED2013 — the anticipation of this year’s crop of bold, inspiring talks tingling through our minds — it also feels like a great time to look back. Here, a stroll down TED memory lane with 16 classic talks, starting at the very beginning. Watch these talks to get in the spirit for TED2013: The Young. The Wise. The Undiscovered. — which kicks off Monday, February 25. We’ll be covering every moment of the conference here on the TED Blog, with posts on each speaker, plus photos, galleries and more.

But before the new, the nostalgia …

Nicholas Negroponte: 5 predictions, from 1984 Nicholas Negroponte: 5 predictions, from 1984
Nicholas Negroponte, in 1984, makes 5 predictions
Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of MIT Media Lab, must have consulted a crystal ball when writing his talk for our very first TED conference in1984. Here, he predicts what’s next in tech with startling accuracy: CD-ROMs, web interfaces, service kiosks, the touchscreen interface of the iPhone and his own One Laptop per Child project.
Frank Gehry: My days as a young rebel Frank Gehry: My days as a young rebel
Frank Gehry as a young rebel
Architect Frank Gehry is now a legend. But at TED2, in 1990, his work was just becoming known in the mainstream, two years after his first retrospective exhibit at New York’s Whitney Museum. In this talk, he walks us through his early work — from the American Center in Paris to his own house in Venice Beach.
Danny Hillis: Back to the future (of 1994) Danny Hillis: Back to the future (of 1994)
Danny Hillis: Back to the future
Technology seems to be advancing at an increasingly rapid clip. In this talk, given at TED6 in 1994, Danny Hillis shares an intriguing theory as to why this appears to be the case — it may have something to do with evolution itself. Note: the pad and paper, as this was pre-PowerPoint.
Paul MacCready: Nature vs. humans Paul MacCready: Nature vs. humans
Paul MacCready on nature vs. humans
At TED8, in 1998, Paul MacCready describes our world as one where humans have dominated nature. And so, he says, we have a responsibility to protect it for the next generation. In an early call for us to respect our planet, MacCready shares his contributions: the electric car, solar planes and efficient gliders.
Eva Zeisel: The playful search for beauty Eva Zeisel: The playful search for beauty
Eva Zeisel on the playful search for beauty
Ceramics designer Eva Zeisel has been working since 1926. At TED11, in 2001, she shared how a sense of play and a love of beauty has kept her work fresh for decades.
Kary Mullis: Play! Experiment! Discover! Kary Mullis: Play! Experiment! Discover!
Kary Mullis celebrates the experiment
The experiment is a beautiful thing, says biochemist Kary Mullis in this talk from TED2002. Here, he marvels at the fact that the experiment is only 350 years old and shares stories — some very old, some his own — about the wonder of scientific inquiry.
Steven Johnson: The Web as a city Steven Johnson: The Web as a city
Steven Johnson on the Web as a city
At TED2003, Steven Johnson gives us a captivating analogy for understanding the internet. In this talk, he shows how both are built by many, yet controlled by no one, and that both are intricately interconnected while being an accumulation of independent parts. And notice that he’s the first person on this list to stand up?
Sheila Patek: The shrimp with a kick! Sheila Patek: The shrimp with a kick!
Sheila Patek clocks the fastest animals
Who knew that mantis shrimp were so fast? At TED2004, biologist Sheila Patek shared her work studying incredibly fast animal movements and how her research on mantis-shrimp feeding requires a camera that records at 20,000 frames per second.
Kevin Kelly: How technology evolves Kevin Kelly: How technology evolves
Kevin Kelly: How technology evolves
Kevin Kelly is the founding executive editor of Wired and the former publisher/editor of the Whole Earth Review. In this talk from TED2005, he asks an unusual question: What does technology want? Because its movement toward complexity reminds him of evolution.
Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do
Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do
For TED2006, Tony Robbins whittled down his 50-hour workshop to its essence — looking at the why behind the things we do. This talk is one of the first six posted on TED.com along with talks from Al Gore, David Pogue, Majora Carter, Ken Robinson and Hans Rosling.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Want to help Africa? Do business here Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Want to help Africa? Do business here
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Want to help Africa? Do business here
The first woman to hold the post of Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala worries that people are only familiar with the Africa of malaria, HIV, deep poverty, government corruption and ethnic conflicts. In this talk from TED2007, she introduces us to the Africa that is changing and quickly becoming a place of opportunity.
Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight
Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight
At TED2008, Jill Bolte Taylor brought the house down with this talk, the second most-viewed on TED.com. In this talk, Bolte Taylor shares the terrifying morning when she had a stroke, and was helpless as her brain function shut down. It’s an amazing story — one that will never let you take the human brain for granted again.
Bill Gates: Mosquitos, malaria and education Bill Gates: Mosquitos, malaria and education
Bill Gates: Mosquitos, malaria and education
Bill Gates made TED2009 into instant news when he opened a jar of mosquitos in the theater. His point: that there are certain problems that do not get the attention they deserve because there is no market incentive to solve then. A passionate and funny talk that connects the dots between seemingly far-flung factors.
Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world
Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world
Video game designer Jane McGonigal viscerally disagrees that video games are a distraction from solving the problems of the world. At TED2010, she outlines a bold plan  to tackle some of these problems through games with a social purpose.
JR: My wish: Use art to turn the world inside out JR: My wish: Use art to turn the world inside out
JR’s TED Prize wish: Use art to turn the world inside out
Artist JR’s oversized posters have created dialogues in cities across the world, bringing attention to the faces of people who are too often forgotten. In this talk from TED2011, JR shares his wish — for people everywhere to join him in a global art project.
Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice
Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. At TED2012, Bryan Stevenson looks at how this distorts sharply around race and socioeconomics, creating a sense of despair in minority communities. It’s a personal and moving talk — one that set TED2012 on fire.

Stay tuned to the TED Blog for full coverage of TED2013 »