Pixel'd Insight

Atari Excavation in Alamogordo, NM

Atari Excavation Navigation:
Recovered Games | Excavation Images | Overview Infographic | Atari Landfill History

On April 26, 2014 the Atari Legend was verified by archeologists, historians and journalists in front of a crowd of rabid fans at the now-defunct Alamogordo, NM landfill. This is an overview of the information we've found around the web.

Game Titles Recovered from the Atari Landfill

  1. Adventure
  2. Air-Sea Battle
  3. Asteroids
  4. Berzerk
  5. Breakout
  6. Centipede
  7. Circus Atari
  8. Combat
  9. Defender
  10. Defender (Atari 5200)
  1. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  2. Haunted House
  3. Human Cannonball
  4. Missile Command
  5. Ms. Pac-Man
  6. Night Driver
  7. Pac-Man
  8. Pele's Soccer
  9. Phoenix
  10. Qix (Atari 5200)
  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  2. Real Sports: Football
  3. Robotron (Atari 5200)
  4. Space Invaders
  5. Star Raiders
  6. Super Breakout
  7. Superman
  8. Swordquest: Fireworld
  9. Vanguard
  10. Warlords
  11. Yars' Revenge

The initial list of games was compiled by tech-writer Taylor Hatmaker from the many photos she took during the excavation. Check out some of her photos from the Alamogordo Landfill dig. Note the discovery of Atari 5200 titles. They also found evidence of atari consoles in the rubble.

Images From the Atari Landfill Excavation

During and after the excavation pictures were posted to a variety of social media accounts. We collected many of these photos and linked some of them below that show the various titles the dug up. Many more can be found on our Pinterest board: Atari Landfill Dig images.

The Atari dig site from behind the visitor fence The Atari dig site from behind the visitor fence.
Removing excess dirt to reach the game carts buried below Removing excess dirt to reach the game carts buried below.

The Atari dig site from behind the visitor fence The Atari dig site from behind the visitor fence.
Atari legend Howard Scott Warsaw & the Fuel guys who brought this idea to life Atari legend Howard Scott Warsaw & the Fuel guys who brought this idea to life.

An excavator at the Alamogordo Atari dig site An excavator at the Alamogordo Atari dig site.
The first cart found - ET The first cart found - ET.

Close up of the first games found in the Alamogordo landfill Close up of the first games found in the Alamogordo landfill. They were expecting to find ET games, but the Atari warehouse was filled with many unsold titles. The Centipede game looks like it was still shrink wrapped.
Mike Burns with the first cartridge Mike Burns with the first cartridge - ET.

Jeff Rubenstein with a rescued Atari ET game in Alamogordo Jeff Rubenstein with a rescued Atari ET game in Alamogordo.
A copy of Phoenix found in the New Mexico landfill A copy of Phoenix found in the New Mexico landfill.

ET and Raiders of the Lost Ark games in the landfill ET and Raiders of the Lost Ark games in the landfill.
Buckets full of discarded Atari games in the Alamogordo landfill Buckets full of discarded Atari games in the Alamogordo landfill.

Hundreds More Atari Excavation Images

A lot of great pictures were uploaded to social media sites. I've grabbed a bunch of images and put them on our Pinterest board: Atari Landfill Dig images.
This is a work in progress that I keep updating as the documentary is released in the Fall of 2014.



Atari Excavation Video: On-site with IGN



Infographic Summation of the Atari Landfill Dig

Atari Landfill in Alamogordo, NM revealed numerous Atari game titles

Atari Landfill Infographic
Our infographic provides an overview of the participants in the dig, images of the buried games, and the game titles they discovered.




A Brief History of the Atari Landfill Legend

So, why would a documentary film crew head into a New Mexico landfill in search of 30-year-old video games?

The video game crash 0f 1983 brought down many prominent video game companies as the bulk of the industry seemingly disappeared. Some blamed economics and lousy games, while others blame supply chains, but very few accounts tell/know the whole story (btw- we don't know the full story either). This crash effected both the home console market and the arcade sector, however there were separate events with different triggers and circumstances. The game industry was nowhere near as defined as it is today and many folks considered video games to be children's toys and lacked the knowledge to relate the happenings to the full-scale economics of other industries.

Reaching the heights of "urban legend", stories have fluttered around the web about a dozen trucks dumping unwanted Atari games in a New Mexico landfill. Eye-witness accounts were sketchy at best and there seemed to be no conclusive proof that this had actually happened. And if it did, what was disposed of? Games? Game consoles? Prototypes?

As time marched on, facts took a life of their own despite stories in major newspapers like The New York Times. The rumor twisted to say that Atari dumped millions of copies of their failed game, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial into this landfill. No one bothered to do the math and realize that Atari wouldn't likely manufacture more game carts than the install base of Atari 2600s. Most of us buy one copy of each game... not 4 or 5 :)

Some of us believed Atari did dump product in this landfill. The importance of the excavation by Fuel was to prove it happened, but more importantly to determine what was dumped. As the excavation showed, Atari dumped a variety of games and hardware into the landfill. I wish the excavation was larger in scale and had been allowed to recover all the of Atari product with the ability to do an accurate cataloging of what was disposed of.

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