Not so fast: Environmental concerns halt Atari 'E.T.' cartridge dig

New Mexico environmental regulators have put the kibosh on the excavation of millions of Atari "E.T." game cartridges from a garbage dump there.

According to The Guardian, the New Mexico Environment Department has said that filmmakers planning a documentary about the burial of the cartridges in 1983 owing to catastrophic sales must first acquire a waste excavation plan.

At South by Southwest earlier this month, filmmakers from Lightbox and Fuel Entertainment said they were almost ready to start digging into the garbage dump in Alamogordo, N.M., to look for the cartridges. Their research had led them … Read more

Digging for Atari's 'corporate shame,' the buried E.T. games

AUSTIN, Texas -- E.T. wants to go home. But first there will have to be a massive excavation of a city's garbage dump.

As is part of video-game industry lore, in 1983 Atari ran screaming from its ill-advised E.T. game and hastily and quietly buried millions of cartridges. Somewhere. No one was quite sure where.

It turns out the where was Alamgordo, N.M., and almost certainly deep in the giant city garbage dump. Last year, a team of filmmakers announced they're working on a documentary about the infamous E.T. game disaster -- which cost … Read more

Ex-IBM engineer builds innovative phono cartridges

Peter Ledermann is one of just a handful of highly skilled people on the planet who designs and hand-builds phono cartridges. These tiny electro-mechanical devices are usually machine made, but Ledermann builds world-class cartridges with his hands and a microscope. His company, Soundsmith, also manufactures speakers and amplifiers, and services vintage Bang & Olufsen and Tandberg products.

Ledermann's resume is impressive: He was the director of Engineering for Bozak, one of America's leading speaker manufacturers in the 1960s. And for 10 years, starting in 1980, he was an IBM senior research engineer and is credited as the primary … Read more

U-Turn Orbit: An audiophile-quality turntable for $179

Most cheap turntables sound cheap -- they're rumbly, thin and distorted -- but the U-Turn Orbit Basic suffers no such faults. Before the $179 Orbit's debut, audiophile turntable prices started at around $400. And while used turntables might be a way to get into vinyl for less, turntables are rather delicate devices, so used buys can be risky. If you're ready to take the plunge and explore new vinyl frontiers, you need a decent turntable to hear what the fuss is all about. The Orbit Basic will take you there.

I first heard about the Orbit when … Read more

Poll: If digital audio is so great, why didn't it kill the LP?

There's no sense denying vinyl's imperfections. First there are the noise issues -- pops, clicks, and rumble -- and they all get a little worse every time you play an LP. Then there are problems with speed stability, off-center pressings, warped records, less than accurate vinyl and phono cartridge frequency response curves, poor stereo separation, and limited dynamic range. That was all true back in 1983, and digital has only improved since then. So why are vinyl sales up year after year since the early 2000s?

Most formats wither and die soon after the replacement format takes over … Read more

The 404 1,138: Where Google Voice is cracking (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Google turns 14: A look at the birthday-gift table.

- Pornoogle: Yes, a search engine just for porn.

- 404 error pages to feature missing children notices.

- Did blowing into Nintendo cartridges really help?

Check out Bridget Carey on the Web's best daily tech news show, CNET Update.

Video Voice mail: Dan from Golden Colorado ran the Denver Rock 'n Roll MarathonRead more

How to buy a turntable

Records, aka LPs, have been around since the 1950s, so there are lots of them out there. I've bought great records for a buck or two at thrift shops and yard sales, and found them on the street for free, but records aren't yesterday's news; lots of young bands are releasing LPs. The way things are going, the LP will probably outlast the CD as a mainstream format.

Speaking of yard sales and thrift shops, you can probably find dirt cheap turntables in those places, but the chances of finding a turntable in good working condition there … Read more

Rare Zelda prototype cartridge for $150,000 on eBay

Last year we ran into a rare Tetris cartridge with an asking price of $1 million. Perhaps the gaming market really is sinking, because a rare Legend of Zelda cartridge is going for just $150,000 on eBay.

The prototype cartridge dates to 1987, the U.S. release year for the famous NES game. The cartridge is yellow with a plain white label reading "Legend of Zelda."… Read more

Shure's groovy phono cartridges

Shure is one of the leading professional microphone manufacturers, and it makes terrific headphones, but my first brush with a Shure product was with one of its phono cartridges in the early 1970s. Shure cartridges were known for their superior tracking ability, and had lower distortion than most competitors. Shure now offers a full line of consumer and DJ phono cartridges.

I recently chatted with Shure's Michael Pettersen to learn more about how to get the best sound from any phono cartridge, and his first order of business was keeping the "needle" in the groove.

Pettersen says … Read more

The 404 1,051: Where we were big in the '90s (podcast)

Today we'll take a critical look at the way people respond to celebrity deaths in the wake of Maurice Sendak, Adam Yauch, and Vidal Sassoon. We'll take you through the five typical stages of "grief" based on what Vice Magazine calls the Facebook Death Patrol.

We also have some bad news to report to children of millennials: your parents are still getting it on, and they're probably using a smartphone at the same time. A survey from Meredith's Parent Network questioned 1,000 moms born between 1977 and 1994 and found that 21 percent of them used their smartphones in the bathroom, while an astounding 12 percent admitted to using them in coitus! Sorry if we just ruined your day, kids.… Read more