The first of three unrelated {{Game Show}}s with this name was from Wolf Productions, debuting on Mutual radio on October 20, 1945. Contestants chosen from the StudioAudience answered questions of increasing value, although the amounts varied:
* By October 1949, it was $10-$20-$50-$100-$200-$300-$500.
* The 1953 daytime version used $10-$20-$30-$50-$100-$200-$300.
* By about mid-1955, the structure was modified to $25-$50-$100-$200-$300-$500.

The highest-valued question was the "Gateway to the Bank". Answering it correctly gave that player/couple one final question for the chance to break the Bank. Missing one question along the way simply knocked you down one rung (for example, missing the $200 question dropped your winnings from $100 to $50, and you'd have to answer another question to get back to $100), but missing a second time ended the game and sent you home with the amount you previously won (in the previous example, $50 due to missing the $100 question). It also added the amount you won to the Bank.

Originally without a permanent host, Bert Parks took the reins permanently in 1946. The television version debuted on the then-new Creator/{{ABC}} on October 22, 1948 and proceeded to ChannelHop among ABC, Creator/{{NBC}}, and Creator/{{CBS}} for the next eight years. The radio version also hopped around, becoming a daily series from 1950 until its end in 1955.

When the show returned to NBC on October 9, 1956, it became ''Break the $250,000 Bank'' and overhauled its format to offer considerably more. Unfortunately, nobody ever broke the Bank (the most anybody won was $60,000) and ''Bank'' folded, this time for good, on January 15, 1957. The show was replaced on the 22nd by ''Hold That Note'', a ''Series/NameThatTune''-esque game also hosted by Parks, which ran until April 2.
!!GameShowTropes in use:
* BonusRound: The question for the Bank.
* ConsolationPrize: The amount you had before the second wrong answer.
* HomeGame: Two versions were released by Bettye-B in 1955, but play for considerably more than the show did!
* Personnel:
** TheAnnouncer: Including Bud Collyer, Win Elliot, and Johnny Olson.
** GameShowHost: Bert Parks, famous for helming Miss America pageants and goading answers out of contestants on ''Yours For A Song''. Collyer assisted from 1948-53, afterward hosting a brief daytime version on NBC.
** LovelyAssistant: They appear to have been added after Collyer left.
** StudioAudience
* ProgressiveJackpot: The Bank, which started at $1,000 ($500 on the 1953 daytime series) and grew by the amount each player or couple took home until won.
!!This show provides examples of:
* ADayInTheLimelight: Among the substitute hosts were Peter Donald, Johnny Olson, and BillCullen.
* LongRunner: Twelve years.