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The Long-Lost Atari E.T. Game Finally Excavated From Landfill

Apr 28 2014 - 3:48pm

When video game legend Atari was headed for collapse in the early 1980s, it tried to forget its troubles in the most literal way — throwing 14 truckloads of video games and Atari 2600 parts [1] into the Alamogordo, NM, city landfill and pouring concrete over the goods so that no one could later get a hold of them. Nothing last forever, though, and a crew of filmmakers working on an original Xbox documentary called Atari: Game Over made it their mission to find and unearth this buried treasure from the days of home gaming past, which they finally made happen this weekend, nearly a year after permission was granted to dig in the landfill.

The biggest diamond in the rough was Atari's video game for the movie E.T., widely panned as one of the worst games of all time [2]. At the site when archaeologists pulled out E.T. was Howard Scott Warshaw, the game's designer, who told CNN [3], "I've been carrying this thing, the theoretically worst video game of all time, for 30 years now," he said. "It was a game that was done in five weeks. It was a very brief development. I did the best that I could, and that's OK."

At least people remembered his game, right?

Even the concrete Atari laid to bury the games couldn't foil the crew of gaming enthusiasts, as they unearthed exactly what they came to New Mexico to find. Hidden in the landfill was an Atari 2600 joystick, an instruction manual, boxes of old Atari game cartridges, and, yes, an E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial cartridge.

Source: Microsoft [4]

Zak Penn, director of Atari: Game Over, and archaeologist Andrew Reinhard held up the Atari 2600 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial game found at the New Mexico landfill site.

Source: Microsoft [5]

It's a little different from dinosaur bone. Archaeologists searched through the landfill for the Atari buried treasure.

Source: Microsoft [6]

Hey there, E.T.!

Source: Microsoft [7]

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