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Program History

College Bowl, "The Varsity Sport of the Mind", has a long and illustrious history on television, on radio and on campuses. It is the world famous game of questions and answers played by two teams of competing students.  College Bowl has provided the arena for the fastest minds in school to demonstrate their great skills under the fire of varsity competition. At the same time, it has entertained millions.

From October 10, 1953 through December, 1955, College Bowl was on the NBC radio network under the sponsorship of Good Housekeeping Magazine. The moderator was in a New York studio, the students on their own campuses and the entire event connected via three-way phone and radio hookup.

On January 5, 1959, the College Bowl program became a network television show. The program's sponsor was the General Electric Company and the program became known as the GE College Bowl. It was first hosted by Allen Ludden, then by Robert Earle. It ran 26-39 weeks each year on Saturdays and Sundays until June of 1970.

For archival data on the GE College Bowl, click below:

In its 17 seasons on the air and since then, College Bowl has received widespread acclaim from Presidents, Congress, state and local officials schools, churches, the press and the public. College Bowl has been awarded many major educational, newspaper and television awards.  It's been awarded an Emmy and the coveted Peabody Award for outstanding achievement in entertainment and education. College Bowl was cited by Congress and entered into the Congressional Record as "entertainment at its best." It has received citations from the national PTA and many other organizations.

College Bowl's unique game format has been licensed by many major corporations for training programs and by communities nationwide for local high school competitions.

Long before College Bowl left network television, the game had become an important activity on campuses across the country. In 1977, College Bowl in conjunction with the Association of College Unions International (ACUI), organized official competition at the campus, regional and national championship levels.  Every spring there was an official National Championship Tournament featuring the top 16 teams in the country. The last National Championship Tournament was held in 2008 at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

In England, the program is known under the title University Challenge, airing there from 1961-1988 and again since 1995 (now on the BBC).

The very first College Bowl National Championship Tournament and World's Championship were held in June of 1978. Stanford University emerged victorious from a field of 15 regional champions. A team of British All-Stars won the World's Championship title.

The College Bowl regional and national championships have a rich tradition. Click to view the full archive listings:

In all, over 500 schools have competed in the program.  College Bowl has raised millions of dollars in institutional grants.

During the 1978 and 1979 championships, four television programs were taped each year for syndicated broadcast in the United States.

Starting on October 10, 1979, College Bowl began a three year run on the CBS radio network. The program featured both regular season competition and post-season national championship play.

The final three games of the 1984 National Championship Tournament were broadcast on an NBC College Bowl 30th Anniversary Special.

The 1987 College Bowl National Championship Tournament, a single elimination tournament, was taped for broadcast on the Disney Channel.

In years where there is no television sponsor, the College Bowl National Championship Tournament was run as a non-broadcast event at one of the participating schools.

 


Page Last Updated 6/5/08
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