E.T. Atari Cartridge Landfill Excavation Uncovers Fabled Cache

by Kyle Hilliard on Apr 26, 2014 at 09:18 AM

The project to excavate E.T. Atari cartridges from a landfill in New Mexico has proven fruitful, effectively proving the urban myth to be true.

Back in March, Lightbox Interactive and Fuel Industries announced intentions to uncover the fabled cache of Atari E.T. cartridges from a New Mexico landfill. Xbox Entertainment Studios also got involved in the excavation with plans to produce a documentary on the project to appear on Xbox Live in the future. Xbox Live's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb just tweeted a few pictures from New Mexico, like the one seen above, showing a collection of trashed E.T. cartridges among others.

Update: According to Martin Goldberg co-author of Atari Inc. - Business Is Fun, who reached out to us to offer some clarification on the exciting news, Atari had been experiencing myriad financial issues for some time, but it all came to a head right around the time E.T. was licensed, developed, and released in 1982. E.T. became the poster child for Atari's financial ruin and a collection of E.T. cartridges, along with overstocked Atari games, were rumored to have been dumped in the New Mexico landfill as a result.

Goldberg also offered the following statement via e-mail on the news: "Except for the relatively good condition of some of the stuff being pulled out, this hasn't been a surprise for us so far. As we reported in the book, and as was reported at the time, what was dumped there was a wide selection of game titles (E.T., Centipede, Raiders, etc.) and hardware (console and computer). Not that it was a massive E.T. dump. The initial findings so far (E.T., Raiders, Centipede, the top of a joystick) seem to support this."

The excavation is still ongoing, so we will be sure to update this story if more details arrive. For now, though, it seems the urban legend behind the cache of trashed Atari cartridges appears to be totally true.

For more on the story leading up to the excavation, including false starts and denied approval, head here and here.

[Source: @majornelson]


Our Take
It's exciting to see this excavation uncover exactly what it was looking for. The story behind Atari's collapse and how E.T. was involved has always seemed a little crazy. It's a hard to believe the fabled cache of cartridges has been found.