More on the Atari Expedition

Things continue to simmer away on the Alamogordo Atari Expedition writing project. While other things are at a rolling boil in the front burner, the incomparable (in a good way) Andrew Reinhard continues to keep the Atari writing project on lock down. Among his most notable achievements is secure the eBay auction data from the sale of the games. It’s pretty cool data and I’ll let Prof. Reinhard unpack the significance of this stuff.

But as a teaser (and because I can’t resist raw data… it’s like raw cookie dough except with less salmonella!). I ran a few little analyses on a slightly-tidied up data set. I can’t emphasize enough how provisional these analyses are. They were literally done between classes and meetings on a very hectic Wednesday, but it’s too fun not to post them. For more serious thinking about the Atari excavation go to the end of the post and read the article by Raiford Guins and Co. in the most recent Reconstruction.

The first chart shows the number of bids per game arranged according to the auction close-date. I tidied the data a bit so a few things were left out of this calculation, but not enough to cause any major data shift. The number of bids was 7413 with almost 1/3 of them coming in the first auction (31.4%) during which there was a ton of action on E.T. games (and over 12% of all the games were released for that auction). There were only two other auctions which closed with more than 5% of the action: one in April which did not feature E.T. games but saw a good bit of bidding on 39 examples of Asteroid, Phoenix, and Air Sea Battle. Some of the last auctions also saw over 5% of the action with 39 games at an auction ending in late July seeing over 300 bids. E.T. games average over 25 bids per game while the rest of the assemblage produced under 12.


This impossible to read chart gives an idea of how many games were released on each auction and the kinds of games in each auction.


This chart shows the average price per game in each auction with the grey line showing the average of all games in a particular auction. The late spike was largely the product of a single bid on a single E.T. game. E.T. games in boxes attracted the highest price with the 10 games released in the first auction fetching an average price of over $1200 and assorted E.T. games without boxes averaging over $500. Asteroids and Centipede games were the only other titles to average more then $100 per sale. The 11 examples of Haunted House fetched only $43 per sale.


Anyway, this provides some interesting data to think about and numbers to crunch. For example, it should be possible to parse out the difference between prices driven up because of auction action, and those driven by the perceived value of the games.

For some real Alamogordo Atari Expedition related brilliance, be sure to check out Judd Ethan Ruggill, Ken S. McAllister, Carly A. Kocurek, and Raiford Guins, ” Dig? Dug!: Field Notes from the Microsoft-sponsored Excavation of the Alamogordo, NM Atari Dump Sit” Reconstruction 15.3 (2016). Good stuff there!

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