Video game found in trash going to Smithsonian At left, workers sift through trash in search for decades-old Atari 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial' game cartridges in Alamogordo, New Mexico (AP photos)
Video game found in trash going to Smithsonian
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One of the "E.T." Atari game cartridges unearthed this year from a heap of garbage buried in the New Mexico desert has been added to the video game history collection at the Smithsonian.

Museum specialist Drew Robarge made the announcement in a blog post. He included a photograph of the crinkled cartridge.

The game was one of hundreds recovered at the Alamogordo city landfill last spring. It was found as a team of documentary filmmakers investigated a decades-old urban legend. The story was that Atari secretly dumped the cartridges. The "E.T." game had the reputation of being the worst game ever. It contributed to the demise of the company.

Robarge said the Smithsonian has some amazing artifacts that represent big moments in video game history. They include Ralph Baer's "Brown Box" prototype for the first video game console. And, there's a Pong arcade cabinet. However, missing was something that represented what he called "the darkest days" of the early 1980s. That's when the U.S. video game industry crashed.

He describes the "E.T." cartridge as a defining artifact. He said it tells a story about the challenges of adapting blockbuster movies to video games. It also helps to learn more about the end of an era in video game manufacturing.

"As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure," he said.

Members of the film crew that sparked the dig at the Alamogordo landfill said they were excited to get the call from the museum.

The documentary debuted on Xbox last month. It's too soon to say when the "E.T." cartridge might go on display. The museum also has hard hats and a vest from the historic dig.

Critical thinking challenge: How could a worst game ever lead to the demise of Atari?

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COMMENTS (134)
  • NoelG-Sym
    1/14/2015 - 02:01 p.m.

    why are they going to put the game E.T on display if it was called the worst game ever made,and why are they putting E.T in the museum.

  • HannahM-3
    1/14/2015 - 04:09 p.m.

    An ET video card game was found in the Alamogordo landfill last Spring. This card and many others were dumped by Atari because it was considered "The Worst game ever". The game cartridge was collected and is on display at the Smithsonian in the video game history exhibit. The cartridge is a defining artifact of the "darkest days" of the video games industry. It is interesting that The Smithsonian has a Video game exhibit. I have never played the games such as "ET" so I hope that one day all of the old video games will make a comeback for future generations to play.

  • SabrinaD3
    1/14/2015 - 04:09 p.m.

    An ancient E.T. video game cartridge was found last spring in a landfill in New Mexico. This age old cartridge contained one of the worst games ever, the E.T. game. This Atari game was one of the many games responsible for Atari's downfall. The cartridge will soon be on display in the Smithsonian.
    I think this exhibit would be very interesting to some people, but it dose not appeal to me. This article was interesting and I enjoyed it.

  • MGallagher
    1/14/2015 - 05:14 p.m.

    An ET game that was for the atari game system was found in the trash. The game had a reputation of being the worst game ever. The diggers at the landfill were excited to get the call from smithsonian and the wrinkled game will be put in an exhibit in the smithsonian. The museum also got other items from the dig.

  • christinab-Lam
    1/14/2015 - 05:32 p.m.

    Even though the E.T. game had the reputation of being the worst game ever, and it ended up ruining the company, it's cool how they found such an old artifact and it's going into the Smithsonian. It doesn't make sense on how the movie was good but the game wasn't, but I guess I wouldn't know because I grew up in a greater time with 3-D pictures, great graphics, and bright colors and not when games had black and white screens.

  • APangaro-1
    1/14/2015 - 06:14 p.m.

    In a heap of garbage in the New Mexico desert, an "E.T." Atari game cartridge was found. It was added to the video game history collection at the Smithsonian. This game had a reputation of being the worst game ever but "as they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure." Drew Robarge describes this game as a "defining artifact." I think that it was a good thing that this game was found because it tells a story about the challenges of adapting blockbuster films and video games.

  • arwillisb-Orv
    1/14/2015 - 06:54 p.m.

    well for the critical thinking I would say that its because customers though they would have games just like e.t game so they bought new game consoles.

  • JonathanAA-4
    1/14/2015 - 06:54 p.m.

    This article is about how collectors found one of the E.T. Atari games in a heap of garbage buried in the New Mexico desert. They then took it to the smithsonian museum. It turns out that these games were rare and not many were made. The museum put this find in their video game timeline section. I think this article is interesting because there is a theory that Atari threw all the E.T. games out because people said it was the worst video game ever made. Just another clue leading to this theory.

  • ksadat-5
    1/14/2015 - 07:49 p.m.

    E.T is a movie that practically everyone has seen. Back when Atari was the ver first video game system, an E.T game was made. Now, after all these years, smithsonian has dug up one of the E.T game cartridges and has added to their new video game history collection. They found the game buried in a giant trash heap in a desert in New Mexico. The cartridge was one of the hundred that were found in a landfill just last spring.

    In my opinion, E.T could not have been the worst game ever, but then again, I have never played with an Atari system. Smithsonian has found an E.T game cartridge for the Atari Game System and it is now on display in their video game history collection. E.T is said to have been a huge contributor in the downfall of the Atari System. Smithsonian dug up about one hundred Atari games in the landfill just last spring.This is a piece of history that will live on

  • John0724-YYCA
    1/14/2015 - 08:58 p.m.

    Well this Extra Terrestrial game does sound pretty bad because I know the game company Atari has really boring and bad games because I have one game called Budokai Tenkaichi Three and it sucks a lot. This game is a fighting game where you go on an adventure to fight the bad guys and it is so hard and boring and I could tell that the E.T game is the worst game. But I just wonder what kind of game was E.T like because most of the game is all fighting.

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