Medical science is continually discovering things that have been with us since the beginning that negatively impact our health and longevity. Do you really think that high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer have not been with humans since the beginning? Does the fact that average lifespans are ever increasing have meaning to you?
So yes, mankind has likely suffered from sleep apnea for a very long time. Apnea has affected our health for a long time. In the past, if you had apnea, you died younger, but after reproductive age, and lived a lesser quality life. I sense you are thinking that sleep apnea is a sham disease and has been created to make the device makers a ton of easy money. You are wrong. It's just recently been identified as to the broad ranging health effects that sleep disturbed breathing has on people.