Two groups tied in first sequencing a human genome -- the Human Genome Project, funded by the US Department of Energy, and Celera Genomics, a private company. The Human Genome Project took 10 years and cost $3 billion USD (US Dollars), while the Celera genome sequencing project took two years and cost just $300 million USD. Both projects concluded in 2000 or 2001, depending on what is considered a "complete" human genome sequencing.
The milestone of sequencing the human genome was extremely significant because it gave us a direct description of the code underlying the creation of a human being, even if we only understand small parts of it. The number of genes in the human genome was found to be 20,000-25,000, smaller than predicted. As more genomes continue to be sequenced, our knowledge of their contents increases, as does our ability to apply these findings usefully to personalized medicine.
Gene sequencing costs have been dropped exponentially since the sequencing of the human genome in 2000. In 2001, the genome sequencing of James Watson, a co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, was completed at a cost of $2 million USD. In 2008, the first full genome sequencing services were sold commercially to customers for a cost of $100,000 USD. By March 2008, one company, Applied Biosystems, completed a human genome sequencing in two weeks for $60,000 USD, the best cost yet. Another company, Intelligent Bio-systems, has developed a system that can sequence a full human genome in 24 hours for $5,000 USD.
A price has been offered for the first to sequence 100 human genomes for $10,000 USD each in ten days or less. The $10 million USD prize, donated by diamond prospector Steward Blusson, will continue to be available until the deadline of 4 October 2013. Many scientists around the world think it is highly likely that the prize will be claimed before the deadline, probably substantially before.
If the cost of genome sequencing falls below $1,000 USD, or better yet, $500 USD, many futurists have predicted qualitative changes in the way we do medicine. If millions of genomes are sequenced and made publicly available, the potential knowledge to be gained for the science of genetics would be massive.