Atari Alamogordo Excavation Collection, 1983, 2011, 2014-2015
Extent: 0.25 Linear Feet
Date Acquired: 02/05/2015. More info below under Accruals.
Subjects: Video Games
The Atari Alamogordo Excavation Collection consists of one Centipede video game, excavated from the landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in April 2014. Also included is a Certificate of Authenticity from the City of Alamogordo, newspaper and magazine clippings, and a 2014 essay about the excavation.
Also included are two "toys" created by Special Ed Toys of Los Angeles, California. The first is a metallic pin of E.T. from the Atari game. The second, an "Online Auction Ready Artifact-Kit," is a small plastic bag with dirt, discarded Atari games, and a plastic E.T. figurine. Both pieces are noted to be part of the "Landfill 2600" system.
"The Atari video game burial was a mass burial of unsold video game cartridges, consoles, and computers in a New Mexico landfill site, undertaken by American video game and home computer company Atari, Inc. in 1983. The goods disposed of through the burial were generally believed to have been unsold copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a game which had become one of the biggest commercial failures in video gaming and is often cited as one of the worst video games ever released; and the Atari 2600 port of Pac-Man, which had been commercially successful but critically maligned.
Since the burial was first reported in the press, there have been doubts as to its veracity and scope, leading to a minority considering it an urban legend. However, the event has become a cultural icon and a reminder of the North American video game crash of 1983; and was the end result of a disastrous fiscal year which saw Atari, Inc. sold off by its parent company. Though it was believed that millions of copies of E.T. were disposed of in the landfill, Atari officials later verified the numbers to be around 700,000 total cartridges of various titles, including E.T.
Fuel Industries, Microsoft, and others worked with the New Mexico government to excavate the site to validate the contents of the landfill as part of a documentary on it. On April 26, 2014, the excavation started and quickly revealed the existence of the discarded games and some hardware, affirming the original speculation on the landfill's contents. Only a small fraction, about 1300 games, were recovered during the excavation period, with a portion given for curation and the rest auctioned to raise money for a museum to commemorate the burial."
Source: Atari video game burial. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:31, March 2, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Atari_video_game_burial&oldid=647991265
Access Restrictions: Open for inspection under the rules and regulations of the Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections.
Acquisition Source: Bill Caraher, UND Department of History
Acquisition Method: Donation; Acc.2015-3272
Preferred Citation: (Description of Item). Atari Alamogordo Excavation Collection. OGLMC 1637, Box #, Folder #. Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.
Processing Information: Processed by Curt Hanson, Department Head, in March 2015.
Browse by Box:
- Box 1
- Item 1: Centipede (Atari Video Game), 1983
- Folder 1: Certificate of Authenticity from the City of Alamogordo, 2014
- Serial # COA 08374
- Folder 2: Media Coverage, 1983-2014
- Item 1: "Dump Here Utilized: Tons of Atari Games Buried," written by M.E. McQuiddy, Alamogordo Daily News, September 25, 1983
- Item 2: "City to Atari: 'E.T.' Trash Go Home", written by M.E. McQuiddy, Alamogordo Daily News, September 1983
- Item 3: "Truckloads of Ataris, Games Buried Nearby," written by Trish Long, El Paso Times, February 19, 2011
- Item 4: "The Video Game Graveyard" by Andrew Reinhard, Archaeology, July/August 2014
- Item 5: Press Release: "UND Adds to Its Digital Artifacts Collection an 'Old' Atari Gaming System Cartridge, Part of Recent Archaeology Dig", January 2015
- Folder 3: Essay: "Atari Tomb at the Old Alamogordo Landfill" by Joe Lewandowski, 2014
- Folder 4: Special Ed Toys, 2017