Does Atari Have Their Own “Area 51″ ?

Does Atari Have Their Own “Area 51″ ?

An urban legend became reality recently when the excavation of a New Mexico landfill turned up more than 700,000 video games.

Video game pioneers Atari, in an attempt to take advantage of the holiday shopping season and brisk sales at the box office, rushed out a video game based on the 1982 blockbuster film “E.T.”

Unfortunately for them, the game was very poorly received at a time when the video game industry as a whole was seeing one of its first real downturns and next generation consoles were making older games and platforms obsolete.  The result for Atari was huge losses and warehouses full of product no one wanted.

Their solution was to bury the problem…literally.  Fourteen truckloads of products, including tens of thousands of copies of the “E.T.” cartridge, were dumped in the Alamogordo landfill, approximately 90 miles from the Atari service center in El Paso, Texas.  Everything was covered over with concrete to prevent scavengers from trying to salvage any of the product, and there it sat, but not forgotten.

Fast forward to 2014 and a documentary film crew working on a project about Atari sought to find the treasure trove of early generation gaming, and was successful in their goal.  The excavation yielded a find of nearly 750,000 game cartridges, made up of dozens of titles (some of them very successful in their day) in addition to the mass dump of the “E.T.” game.

Now if we were going to recommend the best way to store video games and gaming equipment, burying them in the sand and pouring concrete on top wouldn’t be among our suggestions.  This has been proven out as no playable games have yet been discovered in the New Mexico find.  Instead, if for any reason you need to store your gaming equipment, you should consider a climate-controlled storage unit.

Climate-controlled storage helps protect items from the elements.  This is key for video game consoles as moisture, extremes in temperature and dust are among the most common threats to  electronics.

When storing electronics, you should take care to properly label all cords, wires and controls and keep those accessories stored as closely to their components as possible.  Ideally, you’ll have kept the original packaging for your electronics, so you can put everything back in its original box for storage.  If not, use boxes of an appropriate size for each component.  You don’t your electronics sliding around in boxes too large for them, as that is a sure way to damage them during transport.

The Atari archaeology is a fun story and a cool bit of history for video game enthusiasts, but it’s obviously not a life lesson for proper storage of video game consoles or electronics in general.  Follow a few basic steps and you can store your electronics without worrying whether or not everything will be ready to go the next time you are.

Heather Gerling Heather Gerling (105 Posts)

Digital Marketing Assistant at StorageMart, holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Lincoln University. Strongly believes you should never leave home without a book, and admits to having a coffee addiction.


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