Legend no more: Dumped Atari 2600 E.T. games unearthed in New Mexico dig

The 30-year-old gaming myth is confirmed as Atari cartridges found in landfill by construction workers and film crew

For decades it was simply rumour, but now it has become a reality. The tragic story of the discarded Atari 2600 “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” game cartridges has finally been unearthed in a land fill in New Mexico.

Film and excavation crews were joined by around 200 gaming enthusiasts and local residents for the dig, while some had brought their own Atari 2600 consoles ready to play any games that could be salvaged there and then.

The story started in 1982, when Atari is thought to have spent more than $21 million on licensing fees to create a game off the back of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster hit E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

The resulting product created by Atari is widely considered by gamers to be one of the worst ever created. It was rushed into production to hit stores that Christmas and capitalise on the film’s success, but its badly designed gameplay and multiple bugs meant that sales plummeted.

Critics even uploaded examples of the gameplay to YouTube to demonstrate how "horrible" the experience was:

 

According to Mashable, Atari produced around five million E.T. game cartridges, but 3.5 million of these were sent back as either unsold inventory or customer returns.

The embarrassing flop of E.T. is understood to have helped Atari lose over $500 million in the next year, which is often cited as a contributing factor in the video game industry crash of 1983.

That year, the New York Times reported that Atari had dumped 14 truckloads of discarded game cartridges among other computer equipment at a city landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in the United States.

Reporters and spectators were kept away from the scene as concrete was poured over the dumped merchandise, and its contents passed into gaming legend.

But on Saturday construction workers finally discovered cartridges of the E.T. game still in its shrink-wrap, and putting to rest one of the biggest gaming myths in 30 years.

The excavation was filmed for an upcoming documentary that will look at the changing landscape of the video game industry, produced by the Microsoft-owned Xbox Entertainment Studios.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

    £19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

    Recruitment Genius: Client Services Administrator - IT Industry

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of ICT servi...

    Recruitment Genius: 1st / 2nd Line Technical Support Advisor - Up to £26K inc bonus

    £20230 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for a career in...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company is...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future