A decades-old urban legend was put to rest Saturday when workers for a documentary film production company recovered “E.T.” Atari game cartridges from a heap of garbage buried deep in the New Mexico desert. The “Atari grave” was, until that moment, a highly debated tale among gaming enthusiasts and other self-described geeks for 30 years. The story claimed that the video game company sent about a dozen truckloads of cartridges to be forever hidden in a concrete-covered landfill in southeastern New Mexico.
An excavation team dug up old Atari video game cartridges for the much-maligned E.T. game in a landfill in Alamogordo, N.M. After three decades of speculation, a crew went to the landfill and dug out the old cartridges after doing a huge amount of research for the Xbox original documentary Atari: Game Over. Legend had it that Atari Corp. buried the cartridges because the game was so horrible and it couldn’t sell them. The disastrous business move led to one of the video game industry’s worst recessions. The crew dug for three hours and found the E.T. cartridges, in addition to other Atari games buried there: Centipede, Space Invaders, and Asteroids. The game debuted in 1983 on the Atari 2600 with a tie-in to the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial movie. While the Steven Spielberg film was a hit, the game was rushed and bad. It sent Atari into a financial tailspin.