E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial (Alamogordo Atari Dig)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (also referred to simply as E.T.) is a 1982 adventure video game developed and published by Atari, Inc. for the Atari 2600 video game console. It is based on the film of the same name, and was designed by Howard Scott Warshaw. The objective of the game is to guide the eponymous character through various screens to collect three pieces of an interplanetary telephone that will allow him to contact his home planet.

The game is frequently cited as one of the worst video games of all time and is often believed to be a significant contributory factor to the great video game crash. More copies of the game were produced than there were Atari 2600 consoles in the belief the game would drive up hardware sales. This belief was false and Atari made a huge loss on the game, eventually dumping unsold copies into a landfill in New Mexico.

This cartridge is one that was dug up from the Alamogordo, New Mexico desert.  It is now on display in the museum.


The 'Atari Tomb' is a landfill site in the New Mexico desert full of Atari games, peripherals and other stock.  The story surrounding it became one of the great myths of the gaming industry.  

In 1983, the young videogame industry in North America collapsed.  One of the reasons for this was saturation of the market.  Atari, one of the giants of the industry, was left with a mountain of unsold and returned stock as consumers lost confidence in gaming.  This useless stock was dumped in a landfill site near Alamogordo, New Mexico, beginning in September 1983.

The games industry quickly recovered and became an entertainment giant.  Soon, Atari items of this vintage became desirable, and myths spread about what lost treasures might be buried in the Tomb.  The amount of speculation led to some doubt as to whether the burial site even existed.

In April 2014, an excavation took place as part of the production of a documentary on the topic.  Some 1,300 cartridges were excavated out of an estimated 728,000, and other items such as peripherals were also recovered.  They have become symbols of the early days of the gaming industry.

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