One thing that comes to mind is Robert Capa's pictures from D-day. Not the first and not intentional, but they have definitely influenced a lot of photographers.
Originally Posted by Felinik
In general, though, documentary/journalistic photographers have always had to deal with existing light, and in the early days often slow lenses and slow film. Blur and grain has always been part of the genre, although it is of course hard (or impossible) to say when it has been for stylistic reasons and when it has been necessary in order to get the shot at all.