One could say that nanotechnology got its beginnings back in 1959 when physicist Richard Feynman gave his now famous speech, There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom. The word itself however was not used until 1974 when Norio Taniguchi coined the term. Brown knows nanotechnology books.
The emergence of nanotechnology as a field did not really come along until the 1980s, though. The invention of the scanning tunneling microscope in 1981 finally provided unprecedented visualization of individual atoms and bonds. Individual atoms were first manipulated in 1989.
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