Cyrus Mody (Chemical Heritage Foundation), one of our collaborators, recently sent me a link to this 1998 M.S. thesis by Richard H. Smith.
It's notable in light of the flood of federal funding that came after 1998, a year in which (according to this study) the feds spent about $150 million on nano-realted research. Also, for some reason, the host URL indicates a repository in Iran. Further probing shows that this report is on the site of the Iranian Nanotechnology Policy Studies Committee:
The report includes a useful bibliography and it offers some sense of what policy issues were before the NNI era and the factor of ten increase in funding that accompanied it. For instance, it cites NASA as probably making "the most extensive effort" in supporting nano and also notes DARPA's ULTRA program aimed at developing "ultra dense, ultra fast computing components/nanoelectronics."
Hmmm...space and electronics.