Thomas Dolby has spent his career at the intersection of music and technology. He was an early star on MTV, then moved to Silicon Valley; now he’s back on the road (with friends) with his new album, "A Map of the Floating City."

Why you should listen

Perhaps best known for blinding us with science, TED Music Director Thomas Dolby has always blurred the lines between composition and invention. As a London teenager, Tom Robertson was fascinated with the convergence of music and technology. His experiments with an assortment of keyboards, synthesizers and cassette players led his friends to dub him “Dolby.”

That same fascination later drove him to become an electronic musician and multimedia artist whose groundbreaking work fused music with computer technology and video. Two decades, several film scores, five Grammy nominations and countless live-layered sound loops later, it's clear Dolby's innovations have changed the sound of popular music.

In the 1990s, Dolby re-created himself as a digital-musical entrepreneur, founding Beatnik, which developed the polyphonic ringtone software used in more than half a billion cell phones. Now back to touring and recording (after a 15-year hiatus), he's using seriously retro technology -- '40s-era oscilloscopes and Royal Navy field-test equipment -- to control his modern synthesizers, in shows that are at once nostalgic and cutting edge. And he continues his tenure as TED's Music Director, leading the eclectic characters of the TED House Band.

What others say

“Dolby enjoys the enviable position of not having to make music for a living, and that allows him to give serious consideration to what's important to him about being a pop artist.” — San Francisco Chronicle

Thomas Dolby’s TED talks

Quotes from Thomas Dolby

When the polar ice caps melt, my recording studio will rise up like an ark, and I’ll float off into the drowned world like a character from a J.G. Ballard novel.
Thomas Dolby
TED2010 • 452K views May 2010
Beautiful, Inspiring