The effect of causing four or five cards arranged in a row to reverse their sequence magically was released by Verral Wass as “Rifle Range” in his book Astound Your Audience, Volume 1: Cards, 1936, p. 84. This involved gimmicked jumbo cards in a houlette.
The first close-up version was Alan Alan's marketed trick, “Countdown,” 1964. This used roughed cards. Then an ungimmicked method, titled “1-2-3-4-5,” was published by Noel Stanton in The Gen, Vol. 21 No. 2, June 1965, p. 39. In Pallbearers Review, Vol. 2 No. 2, Dec. 1966, p. 67, Karl Fulves gives a method called “Order in the Court” by Dai Vernon and states in the following issue on page 77 that the Stanton trick was the inspiration for Vernon's approach and Alan's gimmicked method. Stanton's trick was apparently in circulation before its appearance in The Gen. During this same time, Nick Trost published an early, related effect, called “Five in a Row,” in New Tops, Vol. 4 No. 12, Dec. 1964, p. 76. In Trost's effect, the Ace and Five at the opposite ends of the row had to be openly exchanged, upon which the three cards between them magically reversed their order.
In Pallbearers Review, Vol. 2 No. 4, Feb. 1967, p. 82, Robert Parrish gives a method for the Palindrome effect using ungimmicked cards. He states that he worked this out “Several years ago”, making him a further member of the group independently tackling the problem c. 1964-5.