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I believe this word came into common english usage as slang for "a nitpicking annoyance" during the Vietnam War era. I found references to it on Nasa historical archives, such as here

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Not seeing it, on b.g.c. --Connel MacKenzie 02:54, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

nit-noy is a liitle bit in Thai, as in "Thai nit noy" - I speak a little bit of Thai. ;-)