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Computer whizzes brainstorm for cash at hackathons

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ It used to be that “hacking” was just a type of crime, a computer break-in. But today, the term is also part of a growing _ and perfectly legal -- mainstay of the tech sector.

Computer programming competitions known as “hackathons” have spread like viruses in recent years as ways for geeks, nerds and designers to get together to eat pizza, lose sleep and create something new.

The formal, marathon group brainstorming sessions are focused on everything from developing lucrative apps to using computer code to solve the world's problems. This year a record 1,500 hackathons are planned around the globe, up from just a handful in 2010.

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