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?