Over the weekend copies of Atari's disastrous 1982 E.T game adaptation were excavated from a landfill in New Mexico. The long-rumored cache of trash contained copies of the game, promotional materials, and other games, according to published reports.
A documentary team accompanied by senior figures at Microsoft were on hand, as were several media outlets who spent the Saturday enjoying the fragrance and ambience that only a landfill can provide.
The idea that Atari dumped huge quantities of its financially disastrous 1982 game had long been rumored to exists. The excavation was the result of investigative work by a team of filmmakers who are creating a documentary about the rise and fall of Atari – and inevitably the video games industry as it was way back in 1982.
Microsoft's Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb and social media director Jeff Rubenstein were present for excavation, and both tweeted pictures of their success to a waiting world. The moment was filmed for the documentary backed by Microsoft, Fuel Entertainment and Lightbox Entertainment as well.
While the excavation does indeed prove that Atari dumped some materials in this particular landfill, it is unclear just how many copies of E.T were unearthed. Rumors over the years estimated that Atari dumped thousands and even millions of cartridges. How many are actually in the New Mexico desert landfill remains to be seen. Ultimately all we do know is that all those stories told about the E.T. game grave were true…
On a related note, Ars Technica has an excellent analysis on the dig here.