Hugh Downs (1958–1969)
Jack Barry (1958 Primetime)
Art James (sub in 1958)
Bob Clayton (1969–1973)
Ed McMahon (1969)
Bill McCord (1958)
Art James (1958–1961)
Jim Lucas (1961–1963)
Bob Clayton (1963–1969)
Wayne Howell (1969–1973)
Broadcast (NBC)
Concentration50s (1)
Concentration50s (2)
Concentration50s (3)
Daytime: 8/25/1958-3/23/1973
Primetime: 10/30/1958-11/20/1958; 4/24/1961-9/18/1961
NBC Studios 3A and 8G, New York City, New York; Studio A, NBC 67th Street Studios, New York City, New York (1958 Primetime); Ziegfeld Theater, New York City, New York (1961 Primetime)
Barry & Enright Productions (1958)
NBC Productions (1958-1973)

This is chronicling the original version of Concentration.

Game FormatEdit

Two contestants (one a returning champion) sat before a board of 30 squares, which concealed the rebus, names of prizes and special squares.

One at a time, the contestants called out two numbers. If the prizes or special action did not match, the opponent took a turn. However, if the player did match, whatever prize was printed on the card was placed on a board behind the contestant; or, he/she could perform an action. The second number had to be called out within a certain time limit; otherwise the contestant's turn ended. It was also permissible to pass on one's turn. This usually happened during the course of a game if a contestant called out a prize card that had been orphaned as the result of a Wild Card match (see below).

More importantly, a match also revealed two pieces of the rebus, which identified a person, phrase, place, thing, etc. The player could try to solve the rebus by making one guess or choose two more numbers. There was no penalty for a wrong guess; even if he/she was wrong, he/she kept control. Usually, a player waited to solve the puzzle until they had exposed a good portion of the rebus through several matches. In rare instances, the puzzle was solved with only a few clues showing. On one occasion, it was solved with only two clues.

In addition to the prize cards, there were the following action cards:

  • Wild Card - Provided an automatic match. In the original game this left the natural match "orphaned", only able to be matched by the other Wild Card, of which there were only two on the board. If the player matched the same prize to both Wild Cards, a check mark would be placed next to the prize on the player's board, and that player would win two of that prize if he or she solved the puzzle.
    • Players uncovering both Wild Cards simultaneously also won a bonus. At first, players won $500 (theirs to keep regardless of the game's outcome) and chose two additional numbers; the prizes went on that contestant's side and four pieces of the rebus were revealed. Late in the run, the bonus was changed to a new car, and again the player kept it, regardless of the game's outcome. Only one car was awarded to a contestant if they called a "Double Wild Card."
  • Take One Gift - There were two of these cards in each game. If a player matched them, he/she could take their choice of any of the prizes listed on their opponent's prize board. Of course, the game had to be won to receive all prizes listed on their prize board.
  • Forfeit One Gift - There were six of these in each game. If a player matched two of them, they had to forfeit one prize to their opponent. Naturally, they would give up the least expensive, but sometimes had to give up something very valuable (if that was the only one on their board).

Also included were two or three joke or gag prizes (such as a banana peel or a tattered sock; over the years, the gag prizes would be comprised of some creatively bad puns and wordplay). These actually served as protection against matching the Forfeit cards he/she might stumble upon. During a panel discussion of the series at the 2005 Game Show Congress, producer Blumenthal stated that the cash value of the gag gifts was $1.

If a contestant solved the puzzle, they won all of their accumulated prizes which were theirs to keep. If there were no legitimate prizes in the rack, they were awarded $100. The loser forfeited all his/her gifts accumulated in that game, but still received token parting gifts as well as the show's home game. There was no bonus round in the original game.

Occasionally, a game would come down to where only two prize cards were left on the board, which because of the Wild Cards often did not match. In such instances, the unmatched cards were turned over to reveal the entire puzzle, and the contestant who made the last match was allowed one guess to try to solve it first. If he/she guessed incorrectly, their opponent was allowed to make one guess. If both guessed incorrectly, the game ended in a draw. A new game was played and each contestant was allowed to carry over a maximum of three prizes.

Should time run out in the middle of a game, the puzzle was revealed and a new game started on the next show with the prizes from the previous game carried over into that next game.

Champions continued until they either were defeated or won 20 games.


  • Due to the quiz show scandals, Jack Barry relinquished the rights to the show to NBC.
  • Three months after the original's cancellation, the series was owned and revived by Mark Goodson and ran in syndication from 1973 until 1978.


Russ Mason's Concentration Page
James Vipond’s Concentration Site
David's Concentration Page
Concentration... Through the Decades