Centipede (Alamogordo Atari Dig)
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Centipede was originally an arcade game, which was then ported to the Atari 2600 in 1982. The main aim of the game is to shoot a centipede that makes its way down the game screen. If the middle of the centipede is shot, the centipede splits up into smaller parts that move in different directions. The screen is also covered in mushrooms that speed up the centipedes descent, but these can also be destroyed to slow the centipede down.
This cartridge is one of the ones dug up from the Alamogordo, New Mexico desert. It is now on display at the museum.
The 'Atari Tomb' is a landfill site in the New Mexico desert full of Atari games, peripherals and other stock. The story surrounding it became one of the great myths of the gaming industry.
In 1983, the young videogame industry in North America collapsed. One of the reasons for this was saturation of the market. Atari, one of the giants of the industry, was left with a mountain of unsold and returned stock as consumers lost confidence in gaming. This useless stock was dumped in a landfill site near Alamogordo, New Mexico, beginning in September 1983.
The games industry quickly recovered and became an entertainment giant. Soon, Atari items of this vintage became desirable, and myths spread about what lost treasures might be buried in the Tomb. The amount of speculation led to some doubt as to whether the burial site even existed.
In April 2014, an excavation took place as part of the production of a documentary on the topic. Some 1,300 cartridges were excavated out of an estimated 728,000, and other items such as peripherals were also recovered. They have become symbols of the early days of the gaming industry.
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH42479. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
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