It has been 20 years since Geraldo Rivera found a stop sign on live TV, opening a vault he believed belonged to Al Capone. In the spirit of tradition, a film crew from Canada has gained approval to dig up a landfill where they believe they will uncover millions of unsold copies of the disaster known to the world as Atari's E.T..
In 1983, Atari released a game so bad it affected the industry by almost ending videogames forever. Legend has it that the company dumped the remaining cartridges, along with extra consoles and additional items in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. While the landfill and Atari dumping are entirely confirmed, the contents still remain a mystery... kind of.
Last year a book entitled Atari Inc.: Business is Fun was released covering this exact topic. The author, Marty Goldberg, spoke to employees of the company, dump truck drivers, city employees as well as local press from the time, all confirming that the myth of 3.5 million copies of E.T. being dumped is nonsense. In fact, everyone involved claims that the content dumped was related to manufacturing being moved from the US to China, requiring cartridge parts, console parts and other equipment to be disposed of.
Of course, the fact that the landfill was sealed and later covered with concrete is a bit odd and certainly suspicious. Suspicious, however, does not equate to interesting. My guess is, when this site is dug up, all that will be found is exactly what everyone involved has claimed for years is contained there: garbage. That does not prevent me from feeling a little excitement about the possibility of artifacts of the beginning of the videogame industry being uncovered, terrible game cartridges or not.