The competition has previously been known as the C&G Trophy (2000–2006), the NatWest Trophy (1981–2000) and the Gillette Cup (1963–1980). For a short period following the 2006 season, the competition was known as the ECB Trophy because no sponsors were forthcoming when Cheltenham and Gloucester decided to end their association with the competition after the 2006 season. The tournament, along with the Pro40 forty-overs competition, was replaced by the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition from the 2010 season.
The competition was based on the Midlands Counties Knockout Cup experiment of 1962, when Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire played one-innings-a-side matches which each lasted one day. The MCC decided to hold a limited over competition (65 overs-a-side) the following year for all first-class counties sponsored by American safety razor company Gillette. The original title was "The First Class Knock Out Competition for the Gillette Cup".
The first match (which was also the first List A cricket match), was a Preliminary Round match on 1 May 1963 at Old Trafford, Manchester with Lancashire facing Leicestershire. The match ended up lasting two days due to rain. Peter Marner scored the first century and Brian Statham was the first bowler to take 5 wickets in a match.