Meet The Guy Who Says He Buried The E.T. Cartridges

Meet The Guy Who Says He Buried The E.T. Cartridges

Last month, thousands of copies of ET (along with other Atari games) were found buried beneath the New Mexico desert. James Heller was the man responsible for that.

In an interview with KBOI2, the former Atari employee says that the rumours about the dumping being some secretive, midnight affair are untrue. With 750,000 unwanted game cartridges sitting in an El Paso warehouse gathering dust, Heller says “I had been charged with getting rid of it as quickly and inexpensively as possible and so I did. That was my job”.

He also seeks to clarify another long-standing rumour about the burial, that the games were buried under concrete. He says they were, but not when first buried; they only added it later, after they’d caught local kids travelling out to the site and digging games up.

Having been asked to do a job, and having done so publicly enough that kids at the time knew where to dig the games up, Heller is a little bemused that the story has taken on mythical qualities in subsequent decades.”[There’s] no mystery whatsoever. People made it a mystery.”

Nampa man says he buried Atari video games 30 years ago [KBOI, via Game Politics]


  • rumours about the dumping being some secretive, midnight affair are untrue

    Yeah they were. He kept it a secret for 30 years. Only coming clean once they were found. Probably could have saved everybody the time and money if he just said they were buried decades ago.

    • Or maybe he just never cared? I mean put this in perspective. It’s a bunch of game cartridges. Buried in the desert. *shrug*

      • If he never cared then why care about keeping it a secret?

        In fact, why care enough to bury them in the desert when he could have just dumped them at the tip? Or just give them away.

        • Companies for some reason don’t like giving away anything. Dunno why. But, he’s just a low level worker who probably never caught on to this being a huge story realistically. Outside the gaming world, this story is pretty much a ‘nothing story’. No impact on anyone, anywhere except nostalgic gamers. If you don’t care enough, it’s not a case of telling everyone, it’s a case of why be f***ed even talking about it? It’s just another job…

  • This just in: Dumping garbage in a garbage dump wasn’t super newsworthy in 1983, amusingly newsworthy in 2014.

    • This just in: Animals died a long time ago and no one cares. Paleontologists dig them up and everyone becomes fascinated by these things called “Dinosaurs”.

  • He says they put concrete down when kids were spotted digging them out, why just give them away I don’t get why they would rather bury them. It’s just stupid to me

    • Kids were probably digging them up to sell them to whatever the cash converters equivalent over there. Considering the game was a complete flop and nobody wanted them, why not just toss them away? Make sense. They probably didn’t want people scrounging them off the dump and reselling them.

      It’s all fine and well to look back with 20/20 hindsight and say they’re worth something now, but back then they were just taking up room. I look at the crap I have in my workshop and think “who in hell is going to want a 3.5″ floppy drive” and then throw it out. Perhaps in 50 years it might be worth something to someone, but unlikely. So I just chuck it in the bin.

    • Since the Game buried was ET, perhaps they needed to pay a licensing fee, if you dispose of the product you don’t have to pay the fee, if you give it away you do.

  • Weresmurf is spot on.

    At the end of the day this is just a very minor event.

    I mean, would you care if woman’s weekly had buried a whole bunch of ‘free plastic diaries’ in a desert? no, because it’s something we are not interested in it just so happens to be that we like games so we find this event interesting, ya dig?

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