Science

Atari games from landfill sold for more than $100,000 US

A cache of Atari game cartridges dug up in a New Mexico landfill last year has generated more than $100,000 US in sales over the last several months.

Cartridges unearthed for documentary about 'E.T. The Extraterrestrial,' billed as worst game ever

An Atari E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video game sold for $1,537 in an online auction. (Wikimedia Commons)

A cache of Atari game cartridges dug up in a New Mexico landfill last year has generated more than $100,000 US in sales over the last several months.

The April 2014 dig ended speculation surrounding an urban legend that Atari had discarded hundreds of games, including E.T. The Extraterrestrial, more than 30 years ago, reported The Alamogordo Daily News 

A film crew documented Joe Lewandowski as he dug up the Atari cartridges. In addition to the E.T. The Extraterrestrial cartridges, Lewandowski found more than 60 other titles.

Those included Asteroids, Missile Command, Warlords, Defender, Star Raiders, Swordquest, Phoenix, Centipede and Super Breakout.

Atari's E.T. game, based on the Steven Spielberg film, was released in 1982 after only 34 days of development. It earned a reputation as the worst video game ever created.

It didn't live up to its financial expectations and is considered by many to have contributed to Atari's demise, as shown in Zak Penn's documentary Atari: Game Over.

The 881 games sold on eBay brought in close to $108,000, Lewandowski told the Alamogordo City Commission earlier this week. Buyers came from 45 states and 14 countries.

Twenty-three games also made their way to museums around the world, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and the Deutsches Film Museum in Frankfurt, Germany.

But Lewandowski said there are hundreds more cartridges that aren't for sale at this time.

"There's 297 we're still holding in an archive that we'll sell at a later date when we decide what to do with them," he said. "But for now we're just holding them."

The city will receive about $65,000 from the sale of the games, and $16,000 will go to the Tularosa Basin Historical Society.

About $26,000 will go toward expenses such as shipping fees.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now