Vision Quest: Contests Throughout History


Prize for: Developing a method of finding longitude at sea
Offered by: Spain’s King Philip II
Amount: 6,000 gold ducats, plus an annual pension of 2,000
ducats for life
Winner: Marine chronometer, by James Harrison, in 1773


Prize for: Preserving food for an army on the move
Offered by: Napoleon
Amount: 12,000 francs
Winner: Canning, by Nicolas Appert, in 1809


Prize for: Butter substitute
Offered by: Napoleon III
Amount: A patent grant in Britain, France, and the United States
Winner: Margarine, by Hippolyte Mège-Mouriés, in 1869


Prize for: The first nonstop flight between New York and Paris
Offered by: Raymond Orteig
Amount: $25,000
Winner: The Spirit of St. Louis, by Charles Lindbergh, in 1927


Prize for: Human-powered flying machine
Offered by: Industrialist Henry Kremer
Amount: 50,000 British pounds
Winner: Gossamer Condor, by Dr. Paul MacCready, in 1977


Prize for: Commercial space flight
Offered by: X Prize Foundation
Amount: $10 million
Winner: SpaceShipOne, by Burt Rutan, in 2004


Prize for: The first robotic vehicle to complete a course from California to Nevada in under 10 hours
Offered by: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
Amount: $2 million
Winner: “Stanley,” by the Stanford Racing Team, in 2005


Prize for: Progress in hydrogen-powered cars
Offered by: U.S. Department of Energy
Amount: $50 million
Winners: To be announced between 2008 and 2017FCS