New Mexico landfill site is excavated for Atari materials
26th April 2014
After the videogame crash of 1983, Atari was left with a huge amount of unsold stock as consumers lost confidence in gaming. As an example, Atari manufactured 5 million catridges of its videogame adaption of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Often called the worst video game of all time, E.T. only sold 1.5 million copies, leaving Atari with millions of unsold cartidges.
Atari dumped the unsold stock in a landfill site near Alamogordo, New Mexico, in September 1983. Over the following years, public speculation about the existence of this cache of vintage Atari technology grew and grew. Many dismissed the story as an urban myth, but others persevered in the search to discover its location.
In 2014, a Canadian company was granted rights to excavate the site and produce a documentary film, "Atari: Game Over". Although it was suspected that over 700,000 game cartridges were buried, only around 1000 were recovered, due to them being buried deeper than first thought. There were game cartridges other than E.T., as well as peripherals and other items.
Visit The Centre for Computing History where you can see our E.T. cartridge on display in the museum, along with some sand from the site!
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