I ran across an interesting article: D&D Next: "Zones of Control" from Chainmail to 4e which argues, I think with good evidence, that every version of D&D has been based in miniatures as its default mode of play. (Alas the original site of this article, Advanced Dungeons & Parenting appears to having fallen to some annoying entropy creating demons. Some poking about seems to show the original author being Christian Lindke of Geekerati.)
The split between abstract combat and miniatures combat was well established by the time I started with D&D, reading the Holmes  edition and then playing first edition AD&D. We never played with miniatures. Indeed, I think the hex grid and miniatures based tactical combat rules were one of the things that drew me to DragonQuest and later GURPS.