Awesome Photos From The Atari Landfill

Awesome Photos From The Atari Landfill
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E.T. wasn’t the only thing excavators found in the Atari landfill this weekend. Though the legend was always that Atari buried millions of copies of that critically-panned game, the historical garbage dump is actually filled with all sorts of Atari games and products.

And while digging in Alamogordo, New Mexico over the weekend, a construction crew uncovered heaps of hardware and games ranging from Defender to Missile Command.

Here are some great high-resolution photos from the dig, shot by ReadWrite’s Taylor Hatmaker. Take a look at what they found:


  • i don’t get it why didn’t the just open the warehouse back in 1983 or whatever and said free games on a big sign at the front and let people come in and take as much as they wanted or were the games that bad? im sure it would have been similar to that scene in lord of war give it 24 hrs and the place would have been gutted.

    • not sure but I believe at the time there was an issue with the market being flooded with these terrible games for next to nothing in stores which is what led to everyone distrusting the industry. That’s why nintendo had their seal of quality to try and prove their games weren’t total rubbish. Giving out more free rubbish would probably just add to the overall problem

    • I think a simpler reason is that they needed to pay the Movie Studio for every game, now let’s say it’s only $5, you sell a game and make $30 profit you give the studio there cut and you get $25. But when you give a game away for free you still have to pay, so now you give away 1,000 copies your down $5000.

      But if their destroyed you don’t have to pay.

      This is just my stab in the dark here, but it could explain a lot.

  • Because then people who paid would get angry… And the few copies they had on the shelf would be worthless… making retailers angry too.
    Plus having played ET… It wasn’t worth free even in the early 80s.

  • All game company executives should be forced to make a pilgrimage to that site every year to remind them of what might happen if you keep shovelling shit and call it awesome fun.

  • Giving away all your stuff for free only really works when you can convince people to give their money to you in some other way. Otherwise you’re just cutting your own throat, reducing the resale value of your stock to zero.

    The reason for the dump was that the glut of games had pushed the supply curve up very high (and to the left) while the quality of many of those games pushed the demand curve down (and to the right). Both of these reduce prices. Dumping games effectively dropped the available supply, in the hope that the reduced supply would push prices back up again.

    Some of the games shown (Defender, Missile Command, Centipede) were actually pretty good by the standards of Atari 2600 cartridges.

  • Looks to me like the “millions of E.T. cartridges buried in the desert” is bunk! Either that, or some dude has a shed full of them, having nabbed them all way back when.

  • *which is the problem with un-adulterated capitalism. The modern version of “If I can’t have them, no-one will.”

  • I think you got the left and rights mixed for your supply and demand curves.
    Edit: Oops, meant to reply to gregorvorbarra

  • Nobody was buying them, which is why they were dumped. Giving the games away (even a shit game like E.T.) would’ve sold a lot of systems. A lot of systems with only one shitty game might have prompted a lot of people to buy a good game or two.

    • It was the best of times. It was the worst of times…

      It certainly was a different time! You’ve got to remember that virtually no one had a pc in the house and a lot of people looked down on the contemporary console at that point. It was all newfangled stuff. Of my friends, only one had a Commodore 64, and HIS dad thought that consoles were time wasting rubbish…

  • Given the quality of a lot of the games, it isn’t a surprise. My first real console was a master system and even that was a gift from my grandmother after she won some money.

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