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E.T. Myth Still A Myth

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Photo 3One of gaming’s biggest myths was that sales for E.T. The Extraterrestrial were so bad that Atari buried millions of unsold E.T. cartridges in the desert.

This weekend that myth was hopefully broken when a Microsoft-sponsored team, which included E.T.’s creator Howard Scott Warshaw, dug around in the infamous location and uncovered E.T. The Extraterrestial… and plenty of other games and consoles.

While everyone is excitedly talking about how the myth was actually true, it’s worth remembering that what has happened is pretty much exactly what was explained in Atari Inc: Business Is Fun, a book by Curt Vendel and occassional Retro Gamer freelancer Marty Goldberg.

The book reveals how the myth most likely originated from the clearing out of Atari’s Texas manufacturing plant during the early Eighties. Several trucks of Atari stock, which included games (including E.T.) console and computer parts were buried in Alamogordo, New Mexico. It was reported by the Alamogordo press at the time and comprised of surplus games that hadn’t been sold in shops.

Photo 2(1)Of course, there’s no juice in a story like that, which is probably how over time it simply became a fabled dig site that instead featured millions and millions of copies of E.T., which no doubt helped it turn into one of gaming’s biggest and most romantic urban legends. The evacation, which took place over the weekend has dug up exactly what those in the know expected it to do, with an obvious focus on those fabled E.T. Cartridges. Still it’s worth noting that many of the games were buried under concrete, which will no doubt allow the myth to continue for some time to come, as it’s unclear at this time if they too will be dug up.

So while we’re not surprised in the slightest by this recent discovery, it’s pleasing to see the non-gaming press running with the story and showing videogames in a more postive light. Documents are being kept of all the items found, and so far the E.T. finds appear to be getting outnumbered by other games. Still there’s always that untouched concrete…

They’ll be a more in-depth article with those involved in the dig in our next issue.

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