A documentary based on the April 26 excavation of a New Mexico landfill debuted for free Nov. 20 on Microsoft's Xbox Video platform, which is available on the Xbox 360, Xbox One, and online. The one-hour documentary was produced by Xbox Entertainment Studios, which Microsoft closed in October as part of a broader restructuring.
Xbox Documentary on Atari's Lost 'E.T.' Games Debuts for Free
Workers discovered around 792,000 unsold Atari video game cartridges -- notably among them the 1983 video game "E.T." -- in a southern New Mexico landfill. Atari buried the unsold games that year in part because more copies were produced than there were consoles available on which to play them.
We're just watching like everybody else.
– Kristen Keller, Atari spokeswoman
Atari, which has changed ownership several times over the years, claimed to have no "corporate knowledge" of the landfill. The New York Times in September 1983 said the company dumped 14 trucks' worth of video game cartridges into the landfill.
About 100 of the cartridges were put on eBay in November and generated more than $37,000 in sales. The single highest bid in one auction went for $1,537. More auctions are scheduled over the next few weeks, with proceeds going to the city of Alamogordo and the Tularosa Basin Historical Society.
One of the "E.T." cartridges that was recovered from the New Mexico landfill will be displayed at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. The museum, which announced the move on Dec. 15, has not said exactly when the cartridge will go on display.
Trashed E.T. Atari 2600 cartridge from New Mexico landfill lands in Smithsonian
Incorporated in 1972, Atari is widely credited with popularizing video games in the U.S. The company also played a major role in the 1983 video game crash. Following Atari's demise, video games were largely marginalized in the U.S. until the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (pictured) in 1985.
Oct. 18, 1985: Nintendo Entertainment System Launches | This Day In Tech | Wired.com