Film Crew to Dig Up Atari Landfill Site, Maybe Score 3.5 Million Copies of E.T.
A documentary crew has received approval to dig up the New Mexico desert site where Atari supposedly buried millions of unsold pieces of Atari 2600 software and hardware. The crew hopes to finally confirm or refute one of gaming’s most enduring urban legends.
The city council in Alamogordo, New Mexico granted approval for the project this week. Ottawa-based multimedia and marketing firm Fuel Industries will excavate the site some time in the next six months for a documentary it’s filming, local news site KRQE reports. This year marks what will be the 30 year anniversary of the assumed September 1983 burial, which came during the height of the great video game crash. That sudden market reversal supposedly left Atari with millions of unsold and unsalable cartridges and systems, which were dumped in an Alamogordo landfill and later covered in concrete.
While at least one Atari employee has cast doubts on the plausibility of the story, the burial was reported in contemporaneous reports in the Alamogordo Daily News and The New York Times. The former paper got confirmation from the garbage disposal company that was used, and the latter got confirmation from an Atari spokesperson. So it’s pretty unlikely the production company is walking into an Al Capone’s vault-type situation.