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Atari's fabled E.T. dumping ground to be excavated for documentary

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A Canadian company received permission this week from the Alamogordo, New Mexico City Commission to excavate a landfill that may contain thousands of copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, an Atari 2600 game often cited as one of the worst of all time, KRQE reports.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was released for the 2600 in late 1982 to poor reviews and low sales. Atari allegedly dumped the excess cartridges in an Alamogordo landfill.

A New York Times report from Sept. 1983 said that Atari dumped "14 truckloads of discarded game cartridges and other computer equipment" from its El Paso, Tex. plant. Reporters and onlookers were kept away from the site as the dumping took place, the games were crushed and the landfill was filled with concrete.

"It was the game systems, actually the game systems themselves, it was actual cartridges and games, E.T. and so on," said Joe Lewandowski, who ran a garbage company at the time and saw the cartridges discarded nearly 30 years ago.

The Ottawa-based Fuel Industries, whose official website describes it as a "Youth Engagement company," can access the landfill for the next six months.