As far as I can tell, there is really not much "history" to be found.
One could, of course, speculate that passages like the following allow one to trace "noting" back to the Buddha: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nysa.html
Ever mindful he breathes in, mindful he breathes out. Breathing in a long breath, he knows, "I am breathing in a long breath"; breathing out a long breath, he knows, "I am breathing out a long breath"; breathing in a short breath, he knows, "I am breathing in a short breath"; breathing out a short breath, he knows, "I am breathing out a short breath."
On the other hand, one could point out that noting is just an effective way of focussing the mind on objects, and, like many other "tricks" that aid focus, has no particular Dhammic significance. It's the focus that is the point, the "knowing", the absence of proliferation and inner commentary. [This is sometimes completely misunderstood with noting dismissed as "commentary", when, in fact, it is quite the opposite.]