Did Atari really dump a ton of games into a New Mexico landfill?
It’s time for a new installment of our Gamebusters feature. This week we’ll be tackling the myth of whether Atari truly buried games in a New Mexico landfill. But first, for those unaware of the myth, we’ll examine the history.
According to the myth, back in 1983, Atari performed a mass burial of video games, consoles, and computers in a New Mexico landfill. This news was first reported by the Alamogordo Daily News back in September 1983, who stated in a series of articles that between 10 and 20 semi-trailer truckloads of Atari boxes, cartridges, and systems from an Atari storehouse in El Paso, Texas were crushed and buried at the landfill within the city limits.
This was reportedly Atari’s first experience with the landfill, which they had chosen for the simple fact that no scavenging was allowed within, as well as the fact that all garbage within the landfill was crushed and buried nightly. Atari went on to state that the reason for the burial burial was that they were changing from Atari 2600 to Atari 5200 games, although a worker later claimed that the story was not true. Bruce Enten, an Atari official, stated that the company was mostly sending broken and returned material to the dumb, claiming that what was buried was, “by-and-large inoperable stuff”.
On September 27, 1983, the news service UPI reported that “people watching the operation said it included cassettes of the popular video games E.T., Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, the consoles used to convey the games to television screens, and high-priced personal computers.” Knight-Ridder, a news service, further reported on kids looting the dump on September 28. They stated, “kids in this town of 25,000 began robbing the Atari grave, coming up with cartridges of such games as E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Defender, and Bezerk.”
Myth or fact? This is one gaming myth that turns out to be true. On September 28, 1983, the New York Times reported on the dumping, and later, a representative of Atari confirmed that the rumor was true. This representative stated that the discarded inventory came from their plant in El Paso, Texas, which was being closed down and converted to a recycling facility.
If there are any myths in particular you want us to tackle, feel free to let us know in the comments.