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November 2014 Retro Gaming Article

November 4, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The treasure trove of excavated Atari games are leaving Alamogordo via eBay auctions

Journalists, Filmers, Archeologists, Construction crews, and Gamers arrived from points across the globe to witness the excavation of Atari product dumped in a New Mexico landfill over 30 years ago. They found the discarded excess of Atari's heyday and it's heading to auction!

The Atari landfill dig-site in Alamogordo, NM Museums around the world expressed interest in displaying Atari landfill artifacts. Fans plotted the likelihood of obtaining one of those soiled CIB games. I sat wide-eyed at my computer as images flowed in from social media accounts of those in the smelly windblown landfill on April 26, 2014.

From the start, everyone wanted to know what would happen with the excavated games. Some went to museums, but they all belonged to the city of Alamogordo, since it was all contained in their now-defunct landfill. We hear that they have around 800 recovered items.

Recovered Atari games from the Alamogordo landfill A recent article in the Alamogordo News indicates that the long awaited auction is happening soon on eBay. The city through the Tularosa Basin Historical Society has made the decision to allow a limited number to be sold to the general public. An initial auction of 100 items will allow them to gauge prices before putting the remaining items up for auction.

They settled on eBay to offer the items to a global audience. No eBay links have been posted, nor have any dates been specified. It sounds as though the Atari treasures will be online in the next few weeks.

Thousands Still Remain Buried

James Heller, a former Atari manager, was tasked with a disposal solution for Atari's Texas warehouse. He says over 700,000 items (mostly unsold games) were dumped in the Alamogordo landfill. If you do the math, only a handful of the total have been recovered. Alamogordo claims that digging them up is too costly.

This leads me to believe they have no clue how rabid some folks will be to own a piece of Atari history. I have an ET cart, but to own one - or any excavated title - is a whole different thing. A game certified from the Alamogordo landfill will be worth a lot more than any cart that's survived 30 years in someone's attic.

I wonder if ET carts from the landfill will be worth more than other titles - they found over 30 different games buried in the muck. Personally, I think the initial eBay auction will be very telling of the real cost of digging up more Atari games. I could be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a battered cart in a disheveled box netting well over $100 in the first auction. As Items become more plentiful, the price may drop, but I think their value will be higher than the Alamogordo town council or Tularosa Historical Society is aware.

Auction Details are Minimal

So, far there is very little info other than being able to soon find these items on eBay by searching "Atari Dig Cartridges". There will be nine different titles of games available which are Asteroids, Missile Command, Warlords, Defender, Star Raiders, Swordquest, Phoenix, Centipede, and E.T. the Extra-terrestrial. The games will come with a City of Alamogordo property identification tag and a certificate of authenticity to insure that it's a game unearthed from the Alamogordo Landfill.

These auctions should be interesting and may indeed warrant another foray into the landfill with an excavator. This could be a lucrative business for the next few years!

Joe Lewandowski, who managed the dig site, said Atari dumped over 3.5 million other games in different landfills across the country but cannot disclose where. Someone get Zak Penn and an excavator... there's more out there somewhere!

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