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The Atari 2600 ET videogame dump site

4276 Highway 54 S, Alamogordo, New Mexico 88310 USA

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“Birthplace of an infamous videogame legend”

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 are generally believed to have been several million 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 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. In September 1983, the Alamogordo Daily News of Alamogordo, New Mexico reported in a series of articles, that between 10 and 20 semi-trailer truckloads of Atari boxes, cartridges, and systems from an Atari storehouse in El Paso, Texas were crushed and buried at the landfill within the city. It was Atari's first dealings with the landfill, which was chosen because no scavenging was allowed and its garbage was crushed and buried nightly. Atari's stated reason for the burial was that it was changing from Atari 2600 to Atari 5200 games, but this was later contradicted by a worker who claimed that this was not the case. Atari official Bruce Enten stated that Atari was mostly sending broken and returned material to the Alamogordo dump and that it was "by-and-large inoperable stuff." On September 27, 1983, the news service UPI reported that "people watching the operation said it included cassettes of the popular video games E.T., Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, the consoles used to convey the games to television screens and high-priced personal computers." The news service Knight-Ridder further reported on the looting of the dump on September 28 by local kids, stating "kids in this town of 25,000 began robbing the Atari grave, coming up with cartridges of such games as E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Defender, and Bezerk."  On September 28, 1983, The New York Times reported on the story of Atari's dumping in New Mexico. An Atari representative confirmed the story for the newspaper, stating that the discarded inventory came from Atari's plant in El Paso, which was being closed and converted to a recycling facility. The Times article never suggested any of the specific game titles being destroyed, but subsequent reports have generally linked the story of the dumping to the well-known failure of E.T. Additionally, the headline "City to Atari: 'E.T.' trash go home" in one edition of the Alamogordo News seems to imply some of the cartridges were E.T., but then follows with a humorous interpretation of E.T. meaning "Extra-territorial" and never specifically mentions the game. Starting on September 29, 1983, a layer of concrete was poured on top of the crushed materials, a rare occurrence in waste disposal. An anonymous workman's stated reason for the concrete was: "There are dead animals down there. We wouldn't want any children to get hurt digging in the dump." Eventually, the city began to protest the large amount of dumping Atari was doing, with one commissioner stating that the area did not want to become "an industrial waste dump for El Paso." The local manager ordered the dumping to be ended shortly afterwards. Due to Atari's unpopular dumping, Alamogordo later passed an Emergency Management Act and created the Emergency Management Task Force to limit the future flexibility of the garbage contractor to secure outside business for the landfill for monetary purposes. Alamogordo's then mayor, Henry Pacelli, commented that, "We do not want to see something like this happen again." On May 28, 2013, the Alamogordo City Commission granted Fuel Industries, a Canadian entertainment company, six months of access to the landfill to film a documentary about the burial and to excavate the dump site. Xbox Entertainment Studios plans to air this documentary series as an exclusive to the Xbox One and Xbox 360 in 2014.  Though the excavation was momentary stalled due to a complaint by the New Mexico Environmental Protection Division Solid Waste Bureau citing potential hazards, the issues were resolved in April 2014 to allow the excavation to proceed. Excavation is planned to start on April 26, 2014 and will be open to the public. E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial designer Howard Scott Warshaw and director Zak Penn will be attending the event.

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Reviewed by
Micha

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
June 06, 2014

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/27/us-usa-videogames-et-idUSBREA3Q00J20140427

It does exist, and it did happen. Fact.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
shaverak

  • 1 Review
  • 2 Helpful
August 07, 2016
Rated 1.0

This is a neighborhood subdivision. No dump in sight. Don't waste your time.

2 people found this review helpful
  • 2 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
June 18, 2017

The movie mentioned in the article is on YouTube now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Urd9JbjLmbY
Thanks, Roadtrippers for once again finding the obscure-but-special spots for my travel adventures that calls to my inner geek.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
madsrune

  • 5 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
May 14, 2014

This place does not exist. Don't waste your time.

1 person found this review helpful

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The Atari 2600 ET videogame dump site

4276 Highway 54 S
Alamogordo, New Mexico
88310 USA

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