The Strong Displays Donation of Atari Dig Materials

The Strong News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 585-263-2700

May 21, 2015

For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365,

Kim Della Porta, 585-410-6325,

The Strong Displays Donation
of Atari Dig Materials

Artifacts Discovered in 2014 Landfill Excavation

ROCHESTER, New York—The Strong (home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games) is pleased to announce that it has acquired via donation from the City of Alamogordo in New Mexico a collection of Atari 2600 games and other materials from an excavation of Atari Inc. products at the Alamogordo landfill. The items were unearthed in April 2014 during an archaeological dig turned media event launched by a documentary film company at the purported site of a mass Atari video game disposal. The materials are now on view in the museum’s eGameRevolution exhibit.                        

After its debut in 1977, Atari Inc. sold 30 million units of the cartridge-based Atari 2600 and tens-of-millions of games, including home versions of popular arcade titles such as Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Asteroids, and Centipede. By 1983, the proliferation of lower quality games combined with an overexpansion of the video game market brought the video game boom to a crash. In response, Atari reportedly buried hundreds of thousands of unsold game cartridges and other materials at the Alamogordo landfill, and the story became an urban legend. The excavation confirmed the myth as fact and turned up thousands of individual games, including copies of Centipede and E.T. (E.T. was often mistakenly blamed in popular culture for leading to the crash in 1983.)

“The crash of the video game market in1983 proved to be a significant turning point in the development of the video game industry,” says Jeremy Saucier, assistant director of The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games. “These artifacts offer a window into corporate practices and a stage of a game’s lifecycle after its conception, design, sale, and use that we rarely see or discuss.”

The donated materials include three 1982 Atari 2600 video games (including the E. T. cartridge), along with accompanying instructions and catalogs for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial; a boxed copy of Swordquest: Earthworld; a boxed copy of Centipede; an Atari Video Touch Pad controller; a bag of dirt taken from the landfill; as well as certificates of authenticity, photographs, and photocopies of newspaper articles, and other documentation related to the dump and archeological dig.

About The Strong

The Strong is the only collections-based museum in the world devoted solely to play. It is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play and houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play. Known widely as the nation’s museum of play, The Strong blends the best features of both history museums (extensive collections) and children’s museums (high interactivity) to explore the ways in which play encourages learning, creativity, and discovery and illuminates cultural history.

About The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games
The Strong’s International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) collects, studies, and interprets video games, other electronic games, and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography. As a result of ICHEG’s efforts, The Strong’s collection of video games, other electronic games, and game-related historical materials is the largest and most comprehensive public assemblage in the United States and one of the largest in the world.