TED Conference

TED Conference
TED is an annual series of conferences organized by the American private non-profit organization Sapling Foundation under the motto “Ideas worth spreading”. TED is an acronym for “Technology, Entertainment, Design”, which perfectly describes TED’s focus and reflects the conference’s Silicon Valley Origins.

The first TED conference was held in 1984. It was conceived and organized by American architect and graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman, best known as the founder of information architecture. He came up with the idea while studying the convergence of three fields – technology, design and entertainment. The inaugural conference featured one of the first demonstrations of the Apple Macintosh computer and demos of the CD co-developed by Sony and Philips. Speakers included famous mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, architect and computer scientist Nicholas Negroponte, author and entrepreneur Stewart Brand, and cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky.

Unfortunately, the first conference was financially unsuccessful; it took six years before the second event was organized. From 1990 onward, the main TED conference has been held every year. Until 2013 it took place in different cities of California (Monterey, Long Beach and Palm Springs). In 2014, the conference was relocated to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Since 2001, the event has been run and managed by the Sapling Foundation.

The program of the TED conference is based on the so-called TED Talks delivered by an impressive selection of speakers. Each speaker is given a maximum of 18 minutes to present his or her idea in the most engaging, creative and innovative way they can. Past speakers at TED include Jane Goodall, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Billy Graham, Gordon Brown, Bill Gates, Richard Dawkins, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Bono, and many Nobel Prize laureates. The talks are freely available online under a Creative Commons license.

Since 2005, TED has been awarding the TED Prize to the boldest and most creative “wishes to change the world”. Until 2010, TED granted three individuals $100,000. From 2010 onward, TED has chosen a single winner every year. In 2013, the prize amount was increased to $1 million. The winner is chosen and announced several months before the conference and unveils their idea during the event. Past winners include Bono, Jamie Oliver, and Bill Clinton.

Along with the main TED conference, the Sapling Foundation organizes a series of related projects and events that have a similar format. They include TEDGlobal (an international conference held in a new country each year), TEDWomen (a confernece focused on women-oriented themes), TEDYouth (a day-long event for middle and high school students), TEDSummit, TEDFest, and more.

In 2020, the event was held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

TED Conference

Photo: Ryan Lash/TED


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