E.T. is frequently cited as a contributing factor to Atari’s massive financial losses during 1983 and 1984. It was generally believed that as a result of overproduction and returns, millions of unsold cartridges were buried in an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill. Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios excavated an old landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico on April 26th and discovered 728,000 cartridges. Continue reading for a video and more information.
In September 1983, the Alamogordo Daily News of Alamogordo, New Mexico reported in a series of articles that between ten and twenty 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 officials and others gave differing reports of what was buried, but it has been speculated that most unsold copies of E.T. are buried in this landfill, crushed and encased in cement. The story of the buried cartridges was regarded by some as an urban legend, with skeptics – including Warshaw – disregarding the official accounts.