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Harry Marks is considered by many to be the godfather of broadcast design. More than any other individual, he changed television by doing things with graphics that had never been attempted before. Not only did he pioneer the use of emerging imaging technologies, but he did so with style and reason. His pioneering work in the field of CGI brought him into collaboration with many other industry pioneers, including Douglas Trumbull, Robert Abel, Carl Rosendahl (whose company evolved into DreamWorks Animation), and Dale Herigstad. In the early '80s, Harry had the idea of bringing together people who work in the disparate fields of technology, entertainment, and design, so he partnered with Richard Saul Wurman and the TED Conference was born. This installment of Creative Inspirations takes viewers on a historic journey through the extraordinary career of Harry Marks.
Harry Marks: This was our first poster for the first TED, TED 1, in February, 1984. It kind of indicates the range of people that we had here. It was really wonderful to see these people, besides the audience, see these people just exchanging ideas, exchanging meeting places, and whatever. I think a lot came out of it that people didn't expect and certainly, as I said, a lot of businesses were created here.
I was sitting here one day and I thought, it would be really interesting to bring these guys who had all worked on the same project together, because they'd never met, they never talked, they didn't know each other. They did their bit, they did their bit, I put it together. I worked with musicians. I worked with artists. I worked with designers. I worked with scientists. I worked with engineers. And it struck me at one point that we were coming up with a product that we were getting a lot of recognition for, lot of rewards, and we were bringing these very divergent technologies together.
I came up with this idea that I wanted to do a conference here, but I didn't know how to do a conference. So Richard came here, they came and visited at Christmas and I said let's go for a walk, and we went out and took a walk. I said, I have this idea for a conference that's technology, entertainment, and design and how they relate to each other, hence TED. I said, would you help me to do a conference, or would you show me how to do it? Because I think that's the thing I could do that would keep me interested and busy and let me live in Monterey, because that's what I want.
He said yeah, I'll help you. Just give me half. We'll do it together, we'll be partners. Well, I said sure, sounds fine. And he brought in Frank Stanton. Frank Stanton had been the President of CBS when I was there, and for a long time. Just a wonderful man, with huge credentials. So he came in, so the three of us did the first TED in 1984.
We had the first Mac. We had the first CD. We put one on everybody's seat. Nobody knew what they were. "What's this?" Then Mickey Schulhof, who was the President of Sony at the time, came out with the first CD player and put it in and it was like, what, what is that? Where are the clicks? Where are the hisses? Where are the pops? It was like, who's playing? I remember it was a Steely Dan album and it was just beautifully recorded. That was a show stopper.
We just had this variety of people. I have posters from TED 1 and 2, and it just range -- the range of people is very interesting, because I brought in a range of entertainment people and Richard brought in a range of information people, and it totally worked, in principle. It didn't work financially for us at all, but it worked in principle.
The thing that convinced me it was right was to see backstage, sitting on steps, was Herbie Hancock and Nicholas Negroponte, frantically exchanging phone numbers, and I said, this works, this is a good thing. Like 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen' it was a wonderful, painful, and rewarding experience. I mean, the people I met through TED is just incredible. Nice to look back on.
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