Atari E.T. cartridges dug out from under New Mexico landfill

ms atari dig jonathan
Image: Microsoft

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Legend has it that in the early 1980s, a cash-strapped Atari dumped thousands—if not millions—of unsold copies of its widely panned E.T videogame in a New Mexico landfill. 30 years later, we finally have proof that this longstanding legend is in fact a reality.

ms atari dig evidence Image: Microsoft

On Saturday, filmmakers working with Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment studios were on hand as workers excavated a portion of New Mexico’s Alamogordo Landfill. Their mission? To uncover the rumored, long-lost cache of game cartridges. And sure enough, crews found them—“a lot” of them, according to Microsoft.

And while finding E.T. was the focus of this dig, it wasn’t the only discovery the crew made: It also found copies of other Atari games, including Centipede, Asteroids, and Space Invaders.

James Heller, a former Atari employee, told NPR that he was "tasked [...] with finding an inexpensive way to dispose of 728,000 cartridges they had in a warehouse in El Paso, Texas." The Alamogordo landfill was his solution.

The boxes are pretty thoroughly mangled as you might expect, but from the looks of things, the cartridges appear to be largely intact. According to NPR, the filmmakers will be able to keep as many as 250 copies of the game; the city of Alamogordo will sell any other cartridges that the excavation crew digs up. 

The excavation project is for an upcoming film with the working title, Atari: Game Over, a documentary that will be released on Xbox One and Xbox 360 later this year.

This story, "Atari E.T. cartridges dug out from under New Mexico landfill" was originally published by TechHive.

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