Atari, the first company to make video games commercially available, incurred irreversible losses in the 1980s. For years, legend held that these losses led to the burial of millions of video games and equipment in the desert city of Alamogordo, New Mexico. This is where you’ll find the Atari Dig Site today.
When Legend Becomes Fact
In April 2014, media companies Fuel Entertainment and Lightbox acquired permission to dig up the alleged Atari dump site. They could do it if they could find it. Of course, we wouldn’t be telling you this if they didn’t. They located the site and dug tirelessly to find out what it held. There weren’t millions of games as some stories promised, but they did uncover a significant amount of intact video game cartridges and other gaming equipment.
Why Did a Multi-Million Dollar Company Bury Truckloads of Its Inventory?
By 1982, Atari had an excellent reputation and was the leading video game company, worth $2 billion. Unfortunately, a series of bad decisions caused Atari to come crashing down. The primary cause of the company’s fall was its massive scale production of highly advertised, low-quality games. By 1983, Atari had lost over $300 million. The company found itself stuck with the unsold inventory of over $10 million. Close to 2,000 employees were fired. Struggling to stay above water, Atari moved its manufacturing plants overseas.
This is when they decided to dump massive amounts of unsold inventory in Alamogordo in The Great Video Game Burial of 1983. The site was ideal because it was nearby, in a desert location, about 90 miles from the Atari plant in Texas. Of course, this story was merely folklore for three decades.
The Atari dump site was one of the most enduring mysteries of the gaming industry until April of 2014. The discovery of what is now known as the Atari Dig Site confirmed the truth in the legend with mixed reactions. Some clearly missed the mystery of not knowing, while others reveled in the transformation from legend to fact.
The Coolest Findings at the Atari Dig Site
The most well-known and interesting find, the excavation uncovered hundreds of copies of the infamously flawed ET game, ET, The Extra-Terrestrial. This game was one of the major contributors to the demise of the multi-million dollar video game company. The game was disastrous and earned the reputation of “worst game ever.” It was low quality and impossible to win. Yet, despite their damaged and dirty state, a single cartridge of the “worst game ever” sold for over $1500 at auction.
There were many other Atari game cartridges including classics like Asteroid, Missile Command, Centipede, and even Pac Man. Many of these units had the price stickers, return receipts, and original packaging intact. Among these were copies of popular games like Yar’s Revenge and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Apart from video game cartridges, there were Atari 2600 gaming consoles, booklets, Atari catalogs, promotional material, and Atari comics from the 1980s recovered from the landfill.
Visit the Atari Dig Site in Alamogordo
Whether you’re an archaeology enthusiast, a gaming fanatic, or a tourist explorer, you’ll want to experience this unique discovery. It’s the perfect amalgamation of legendary tales, bewildering facts, and general historic importance. So, go on and check out the Alamogordo Atari Dig Site, where an urban legend came to life.