During the months of March and April of 2014, I was hired as the location sound mixer by Lightbox Entertainment, a production company hired by Microsoft to take on the role of the modern day Indiana Jones and investigate if the legend of the Atari videogame burial was real.
For those of you who are not part of the gaming community, allow me to tell you the story as told to me by my ancestors (parents, friends, and relatives).
One of the the main warehouses was located in El Paso, TX while the maquiladora that actually assembled all the games was in Juarez, Chihuahua.
In 1983, as Atari plunged into bankruptcy, the company began to layoff everyone at this manufacturing warehouse, which had over 600 employees.
Rather than try to sell their game systems and game cartridges in the after market arena, Atari decided to liquidate its gaming assets, but not in the way one might think.
As written in the El Paso Times "Truckloads of Ataris, games buried nearby" back in 2011 by Trish Long:
By 1981, the factory had 350 employees and was the largest manufacturing operation outside of the company's headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif.
In March 1982, Atari Inc. officially opened a $7 million manufacturing plant at 11440 Pellicano, but it had started operations in August 1981.
By September 1983, Atari had laid off 380 of its 660 El Paso employees when the company "re-aligned its manufacturing operation." The plant went from manufacturing home video game cartridges to "remanufacturing," or repairing faulty merchandise returned by vendors.
In 1984, the El Paso Atari plant was closed for good, putting the remaining 300 employees out of work. El Paso's remanufacturing work was moved to Sunnyvale, and the software production to Taiwan.
The Alamogordo City Council gave Atari approval to use their landfill to bury all of their remaining inventory. Soon, the word go out that there were Atari video games buried in the Alamogordo landfill, thus the legend of the Atari Tomb was born.
Check out the trailer for the documentary Atari: Gameover and get a first hand look as to how the urban legend was born and where the games were finally unearthed.