Ancient Atari Joysticks Unearthed

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Darren Gladstone, PC World
PC World
Monday, July 20, 2009; 12:19 AM

On a recent excavation, Chris Locke unearthed an amazingly well-preserved fossil of Hilarofustis atarium, commonly referred to as the Atari joystick. This is the most recent "discovery" he has made, but among his Modern Fossils collection you can also spot long-dead boom boxes, aged iPods, obsolete hard drives, and ancient phones.

Yep, technology gets old, fast. While most formerly cutting-edge tech ends up in a pile of yesterday's trash, Locke does his best to preserve specimens the best way he knows how: by burying them.

It started when Locke had some extra rubber after making molds. "I grabbed an old Nintendo controller I had lying around--it was an iconic symbol of my childhood--and I thought it'd be cool to preserve it as a fossil," he says.

That gave him his first taste. Now he regularly haunts his local Goodwill store in Austin, Texas, which receives electronics donations from nearby companies."The guys [at Goodwill] get a kick out of what I'm doing, and they are always on the lookout for cool gear that I could use in my projects." When he's done re-creating something in stone, everything goes back to Goodwill so that the staffers can recycle the parts. ("They just loan me the stuff...which I then destroy.") And whatever they don't have, he looks for on eBay.

Here are a few of the "finds."

Hilarofustis atarium

One of our earliest specimens, Hilarofustis atarium occupies the same position on the food chain as Dominaludus nintendicus but predates it by several years. Examples of this particular species are somewhat rare, especially today, as so many other species have arisen to take its place.

This is an early example of the "game controller" unit, specifically from the mid-1980s. The earliest examples of this species appeared in Japan, but quickly spread throughout the United States and the rest of the world within only two or three years.

Ludustatarium temperosony

First seen in the mid-1990s, Ludustatarium has been found throughout the world. Similar in origin and function to Dominaludus nintendicus, Ludustatarium is obviously a more complex evolution of the form.


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