The $10,000 Pyramid, with host Dick Clark, made its network debut on March 26, 1973 and was a ratings hit, sustaining its ratings even when episodes were delayed or preempted by the Watergate hearings. A year later, the ratings temporarily declined (against the original version of Jeopardy! on NBC) and CBS canceled it. The show was quickly picked up by ABC, and began airing on that network on May 6, 1974. As per CBS custom at the time with celebrity game shows, three weeks of episodes for CBS were taped in Hollywood. (Pyramid returned to California for good beginning with the 1982 revival.)
The first thirty episodes (six weeks) which aired on ABC were taped at CBS' Ed Sullivan Theater while a replica set was built at ABC's smaller Elysee Theater, known also as Studio TV-15. One reason may have been the size of the set (including the giant Pyramid board itself); also, and Pyramid historian William Padron had said that the CBS union staff objected to seeing their creations moved to an ABC studio. The first episode taped at ABC was broadcast on June 17, 1974 with June Lockhartand William Shatner.
A weekly syndicated nighttime version, known as The $25,000 Pyramid and hosted by Bill Cullen, made its debut in September 1974, seen mostly on network-affiliated stations during the prime access time slot. This edition lasted until September 1979.
The network daytime version was a ratings success for ABC, usually ranked #3 among daytime game shows. On January 19, 1976, the show increased its top prize and was renamed The $20,000 Pyramid. However, ratings later began to slide, and ABC canceled the show on June 27, 1980.
For a six-week period from October 1 to November 9, 1979, the series became Junior Partner Pyramid, with the traditional celebrity-contestant pairings scrapped in favor of children teamed with their parents or other adult relatives.
From January 26 to September 4, 1981, the program returned to daily first-run syndication as The $50,000 Pyramid, with Clark as host. It was the final edition of the program to originate in New York City. This version included the first tournament structure and was later integrated into The $100,000 Pyramid.Title card of the 1980s $25,000 Pyramid.
On September 20, 1982, the series returned to the CBS daytime lineup as The $25,000 Pyramid, again with Clark as host, but now taped in Los Angeles at CBS Television City's Studio 33 (currently known as the Bob Barker Studio) and remained there for the entire run and the brief 1988 return. The new Pyramid debuted at 10:00 AM and for its entire run on CBS served as the leadoff program for the network's morning game show block, being paired with three different series as part of the lead-in hour for The Price Is Right. The first series to share the hour with The $25,000 Pyramid was Child's Play, which was hosted by former Pyramid host Bill Cullen and debuted the same day. In September 1983 that was replaced by Press Your Luck, which was replaced by a new version of Card Sharks in January 1986.