Someone's Going To Dig Up Atari's Infamous New Mexico Landfill

Alamogordo's city council has granted an excavation permit for the infamous landfill holding millions of copies of E.T. and Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 — two titles blamed for the mid-1980s crash of console gaming — and yes, the permit-holder is digging out the site to find those games' remains.

The story is well known to gamers, particularly those who played both cartridges in their childhoods. Atari spent a ton on the rights to adapt an E.T. video game and the result stunk like shit. Some 3.5 million E.T. cartridges went unsold and sat in Atari's warehouses. Pac-Man, though it sold 7 million copies, had some 5 million unsold carts left over as the novelty of playing Pac-Man in your home — in a version that looked and sounded nothing like its arcade namesake — quickly wore off.

Atari had a bunch of this unsellable stock in a warehouse in El Paso, Texas. The publisher decided to write off the whole mess and paid to dump the cartridges plus some other hardware — including, allegedly, prototypes of the ridiculous Mindlink controller — in landfill in Alamogordo, 90 miles north. All of the material was said to have been crushed; a layer of concrete was then poured over the remains before being covered by earth.

Presumably, the Canada-based filmmaker Fuel Industries knows all of that. It still wants to see what's buried there, and got a six-month permit from the Albuquerque city council to excavate the site. The burial took place on September 26, 1983, so it seems a 30th anniversary event is in the works. Someone call Geraldo Rivera.

What's ironic here is that in 1983, Alamogordo's city council protested the dumping and later passed laws restricting such landfilling operations, fearful the city would become attractive for these kinds of jobs. Now it seems to be willing to capitalise on the notoriety. "I hope more people find out about Alamogordo through this opportunity that we have to unearth the Atari games in the landfill," Mayor Susie Galea said, according to KRQE-TV.

Alamogordo Approves Atari Excavation [KRQE-TV; also via NPR]


Comments

    Huh! I was born on the very day of the very year E.T. was put into landfill!

    Last edited 02/06/13 3:53 pm

      Depends on where and what time of the day you were born. If you were born in Aus, it may not have been on the same day because of the time difference.

        Well that's getting a little pedantic. I'm not saying the slab was finished the very second I popped out or anything. Same calendar day is good enough for me.

          Oh my GOD... the anti-christ of games was buried and put to rest... then you were born...

          Mother of god...

    Some things are best left buried...

      Yeah, I have a feeling some pixelated monster is going to rise from under that slab...

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