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it all started in 1927 when Charles Lindbergh made his famed solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic for a $25,000 prize.
Companies like Netflix and Google are catching on and following suit. Netflix is offering a $1 million reward to anyone who can improve their current movie-recommendation software by at least 10 percent. So far, it’s been a year–and still no winner. Netflix is trying to keep programmers motivated by offering $50,000 prizes to whoever comes closest to the 10 percent improvement. Google is also getting in on the prize wars. The company is offering $10 million in award money for people who build the best software to enhance the company’s upcoming cell phone operating system. Entries can be received from January 2 to March 3, 2008. Judges will select 50 winners who will each receive $25,000 and be eligible for ten awards of $100,000 and ten awards of $275,000. The big money comes into play in the second phase of the competition when another $5 million in prize money is at stake.