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Infamous ET Atari cartridges landfill dug up

Posted on Sunday, 27 April, 2014 | Comment icon 42 comments

As far as video games go, ET was a bit of a disaster. Image Credit: YouTube / IGN
A documentary film crew has successfully located and excavated the spot where the cartridges were buried.
The Atari 2600 video game adaption of the popular Stephen Spielberg movie is widely considered to be the worst game of all time, a creation so abysmal that it not only left Atari with a huge quantity of unsold cartridges but it also helped bring about the video game crash of the early 1980s.

The story goes that in 1983 Atari loaded their unsold stock of cartridges on to a lorry and drove them out to the New Mexico desert where they were unceremoniously buried in a landfill. The tale since became something of an urban legend with nobody really certain as to whether this event actually took place or not.

Now thanks to film director Zak Penn and a documentary crew the mystery has finally been solved. With the help of an excavation team the filmmakers managed to locate the landfill and dig up several of the cartridges in front of a jubilant crowd of reporters and enthusiasts.

Source: New York Daily News | Comments (42)

Tags: ET, Atari

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #33 Posted by theotherguy on 30 April, 2014, 21:48
Well, you learn something every day.
Comment icon #34 Posted by :PsYKoTiC:BeHAvIoR: on 1 May, 2014, 13:49
I'm with you. I was always fascinated by this bit of video game history. Even happier to see it wasn't actually crushed. It's too bad the weren't able to do this last year, it would have marked the 30 year anniversary of the video game crash. Oh well.
Comment icon #35 Posted by DecoNoir on 1 May, 2014, 16:13
I certainly agree! As someone who loves to study myths I found this extremely interesting, and like it or not, these modern day myths play a part in our culture. Also, to people saying this was a waste of time and money, remember that nest time you turn on the TV and see another Kardashian spin-off.
Comment icon #36 Posted by mysticwerewolf on 1 May, 2014, 16:24
if you want to get rid of something so that it will never be found then burn it and stir the ashes well.
Comment icon #37 Posted by Mojohand on 5 May, 2014, 17:09
Wow, just seeing that video still has brought back so many memories. The game was so confusing and had no point or end...
Comment icon #38 Posted by scowl on 5 May, 2014, 19:56
The cartridges could be read and duplicated. The guts just contained an inexpensive ROM chip on a PC board. There were devices that you could read them with (a friend had one for an Apple II) and it was possible to burn a ROM with the same contents. Experimenters who wanted to write their own Atari 2600 games (very difficult!) had a thing that plugged into the cartridge socket with a ribbon cable and had an EPROM (a ROM that you could erase and rewrite). There was something on the Apple II that would help you develop Atari games. It couldn't emulate the game but it could tell you if... [More]
Comment icon #39 Posted by Junior Chubb on 5 May, 2014, 23:55
Cheers for the extra info Scowl Always nice to have the ramblings of my memory fleshed out into something more concrete. I have plenty of ROM images of cartridge games, but as you confirm no pirated cartridges.
Comment icon #40 Posted by scowl on 6 May, 2014, 16:57
Which surprises me a little. The thing we used to read the ROMs on an Apple II and burn an EPROM cartridge was kind of expensive (at the time) but it had all the parts necessary to copy the code for pirated cartridges. Retail cartridges cost $15-$20 (double that for today's dollars) so there should have been a huge market for pirated cartridges just like there was for bootlegged albums and cassettes. I think what stopped it was just the physical manufacturing of the cartridges which had to fit just perfectly in the console to work. And I bet that's why Atari did their be... [More]
Comment icon #41 Posted by Asadora on 6 May, 2014, 19:45
My husband had shared the following youtube link with me and I thought it was appropriate to share with the rest of this thread:) To the people in the video, kudos to your retro gaming dedication!
Comment icon #42 Posted by Junior Chubb on 6 May, 2014, 20:34
I downloaded all my ROM images online somewhere, but have never came across a pirated cartridge despite playing SNES after (I think) Atari ST and Amiga with which piracy was rife. I think you are right about the hardware, having to physically make the cartridges was a big hurdle to cross back then which is why Nintendo stuck it out with cartridges for so long. I would guess its a different scenario today, you could get the components knocked up in China at a good price maybe making cartridge piracy a viable option.

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