The Classic Exchange was concieved by Stu Stephens, K8SJ (SK 1996*), his brother Al Stephens, N5AIT, and Bob Morgan, K8RBV in 1975. It began as a spur of the moment idea built around having a contest for Harvey-Wells Bandmasters only.
There was already a TBS-50C in the Stephens family which Al had used as his very first transmitter (KN9KHU,1957). Al just couldn't resist bringing home another one, a TBS-50D from a radio store in Auburn, Maine nearby where he was working as an Amateur Radio Counselor at Camp Cedar. Stopping by Stu's place in Ohio on his way back to Texas, he was showing off his treasure to Stu and to Bob, who lived just a couple doors down. Seems Bob had a Bandmaster too, hence the contest idea was born.
Stu, Al and Bob took the idea and expanded on it to be a contest for older rigs where the multiplier would come from the combined age of all the equipment put on the air, jokingly creating what was to become the CX. In a surprise move, Stu followed up on this, sent the announcement to QST, et al, and the Nostalgia Exchange,"NX", was held in 1976. Not too many participants for the first one, of course, but there was a solid assortment of "regulars" who have stuck it out the whole way, including Jim W8KGI, and Marty AA4RM (SK 2010).
Stu changed the name to Classic Exchange, "CX", for the second one, since there already existed an "NX." Stu did a yeoman job of keeping it going and putting out highly entertaining newsletters for the next 15 years which were almost as much fun reading as operating in the CX. He was followed in the leadership role by his brother Al, and Jim and Marty who continued the tradition of a fun contest. Al decided in 2001 that it was time for others to take the key on CX and passed it with good wishes to the current team.
* See "Stu Stephens, K8SJ, Silent Key" Electric Radio, No. 87, July 1996