A garbage collector and punk archaeologist partnered to find the fabled pit where a struggling Atari dumped tons of unsold inventory after the video game crash of 1983. They knew the Atari trove was close when they began unearthing artifacts of the 80s, including a Donny and Marie Osmond poster.

New Mexico city finds buried treasure of Atari games

A long-buried copy of the infamous Atari game “E.T.” is worth more than $1,500.

The desert city of Alamogordo, New Mexico, finally sold off its buried treasure of ancient Atari games, raking in more than $100,000 from nearly 900 games.

The haul included a single copy of “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” from 1982. Once vilified as the worst video game ever, the outmoded and abandoned “E.T.” sold for $1,535.

Atari emptied out a warehouse and paid Alamogordo to dump nearly 800,000 games in its city landfill in 1983, according to Joseph Lewandowski, who was on site when it happened and later bought the garbage company that buried them.

In recent years, the trove achieved the status of urban legend, especially since nobody remembered… Continue Reading (2 minute read)

13 thoughts on “A garbage collector and punk archaeologist partnered to find the fabled pit where a struggling Atari dumped tons of unsold inventory after the video game crash of 1983. They knew the Atari trove was close when they began unearthing artifacts of the 80s, including a Donny and Marie Osmond poster.”

  1. tr0ub4d0r

    In case you were also wondering what a “punk archaeologist” is, from the article:

    > Andrew Reinhard, a self-described “punk archaeologist” and “archaeogamer,” helped with the excavation.

    >”The archeology that I’m interested in is the archeology off the recent past,” said Reinhard, who also works for the American Numismatic Society in New York. “For archeology, this is the first excavation of video games in the history of humanity.”

  2. bradmeehan

    There’s a documentary about it where they go looking for the landfill. Netflix I think.

  3. agasizzi

    I still have my copy, paid $0.50 for it and I still overpaid. I was determined to figure that game out as a kid, I feel hours of my life were stolen without my knowing it.

  4. Global-Election

    “I really wasn’t a gamer,” said Lewandowski, who rediscovered the site with the help of old photographs and maps. “I never had time to play games. For me, it was the ultimate treasure hunt for an urban legend.”

    Never had time for games but time for this? Alright, I guess.

  5. LevelB

    It’s amazing they found what they were looking for. That is not an easy thing in a landfill.

  6. stanley_leverlock

    ET was one of my first rage quits. It really was a horrible game.

  7. AnswerGuy301

    Somehow being thrown into a random pit was a very fitting fate for these game cartridges.

  8. steve_gus

    The osmonds are 1970s. Firmly 1970s.

  9. frezik

    There’s not much “fabled” about it. It was documented in the press at the time.

  10. jasinner

    I’m glad some new people may learn about the Alamogordo Atari Dig after seeing this and I hope this doesn’t get buried but the title of this post is word salad and gets some things wrong.

    The “punk archeologist” was Andrew Reinhard. He did not operate alone and was part of a team of other archaeologists who participated in the dig. The “punk” moniker refers to these archaeologists interest in exciting new areas of archaeological study including on modern sites, garbage, and digital archaeology. The archaeologists were invited to catalog the exumed materials.

    The “garbage collector” also has a name, Joseph Lewandowski. He isn’t a garbage collector, he was a former manager of the dump site in the 80’s. Lewandowski located the site by carefully examining old photos of the Atari dig his wife had saved.

    The materials that were removed sometimes had dates or could be traced to a certain era which let them know when they were getting deep enough.

    For more information watch the Atari: Game Over documentary or visit the Tularosa Basin Museum of History in Alamogordo,

  11. rednrithmetic

    “How to Invade Utah”. /s

  12. LeaguePillowFighter

    I wanna be a punk archeologist

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