(MB 1962)

BY THE NUMBERS was based on a TV show that was supposed to have been a national network game, but ended up only being seen in the local Los Angeles area.  They forgot to tell Milton Bradley, however, and this home game reached the national market anyway.  Here, a description of the game show that few have seen.
    Twenty two-sided cardboard game cards (40 total gameboards)
    One slotted "Secret Word" game card
    Game box with hard-plastic cover
    Thirty numbered slides that fill the thirty slots on the game cover
    32 long letter strips (One each of letters A-Z, plus an extra A, E, L, R, S and T)
        (On the reverse of each letter strip are some six-letter words to use in the bonus game.)
    Score pad
    Milton Bradley Bucks
    Each game card has 30 spaces, on which are scrambled each of the 26 letters of the alphabet and four "blanks".  Each game begins with the two teams of two player each studying the game card for fifteen seconds.  The game card is then covered.
    One team plays at a time.  The two team members take turns calling out numbers on the game board.  As each number is called out, the letter beneath the numbered slide is revealed briefly to all players, then covered up.  (In other words, except for brief peeks behind the numbers as they are called, the game board is always fully covered.)  The object for the teammates is to uncover letters in the correct order to spell common words.  Words are worth ten points a letter (three-letter minimums), so the longer the word, the more points a team scores.  After each successful word, the team begins again and tries to create a new word (using the same letters if necessary).
    A team stays in control until they pass, fail to make a word or uncover one of the four "blanks".  Play then passes to their opponents.  The first team to 150 points wins and plays the "Secret Word" bonus.
    The "Secret Word" is a six-letter word chosen from lists printed on the back of the letter strips.  Using the letter strips, the Secret Word is placed on the special game card and hidden under the game cover.  In the Secret Word game, only the numbers 1-24 on the game board are used.
    The two members of the winning team take turns calling out six numbers on the game board.  As the numbers are called, the slides are removed.  (In the bonus round, the slides are not replaced until the round is over.)  After all six slides are removed, the teammates confer and are allowed one guess at the Secret Word for $1,000 each.  If they are wrong, a new number is called and the players guess again, this time for $900.  Play continues with each removed slide reducing the amount of the prize by $100.  If the players fail to identify the Secret Word, they each receive a $100 minimum prize.
    Well, we only recently learned that there actually WAS a TV show, for years we thought it never aired.  We've never seen it, and it appears not very many people have.
    If the TV show played exactly like the board game, it's easy to see some of the problems with it.  Memorizing the location of a handful of letters isn't difficult, and the show could easily have fallen into a rut of players looking for the same old words every time.  We assume the idea was to have contestants paired with celebrities, but if the pairs were made up of couples or friends, they could easily have planned successful strategies long before entering the studio!
    We would love to learn more about this interesting bit of lost game show history.  The copyright on the box is for Desilu, the Lucille Ball company which wasn't exactly known for its game shows!  Any information that any TV historian or insider could share with us would be appreciated.