I sometimes read DND blogs in which D100 tables appear. There's just something about that format that I like. It reminds me of lots of cool stuff like the Babylonian lists of mes. Are they recent or old school? Whenabouts did they arise in role playing gaming?
They’re not recent. They date back to early D&D at least. I see one in The Dungeoneer #8, p. 28, The Booty Bag: Magical Gems of Rechaun by Ree Moorhead. It is, as the title implies, a table of gems.
There are a few things done differently than I normally see today. The last item is listed as “100 (00) Zircon” rather than just “00”, and the first item is listed as “1-10 Agate”, not “01-10 Agate”.
I don’t see any d100 tables in issues 1-7. Issue 8 is dated May-June 1978.
The AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide and adventures of that era were filled with them, for wandering monster charts.
There’s also one in Judges Guild Journal #5 (N), dated August/September 1977. It looks exactly like what I normally see today. It’s a table of merchants, and starts with “01-13 Cloth Merchants” and ends with “00 Miscellaneous Merchants”. It’s on page 6. I don’t see a d100 table in Judges Guild Journal #4 (M), and I don’t have any earlier issues.
The earliest such table I've seen in a rule-book is in D&D Supplement I - Grayhawk. Page 7. Exceptional Strength Table.
It does use the leading 0 for 01.
This puts the date no later than 1976.
The earliest such table I've seen is in Strategic Review #1, page 4, "Treasure. This issue is dated Spring, 1975, and is the D&D magazine of that era.
Interestingly, core white box D&D uses d6's, as does Chainmail, so players having d20's for rolling percentiles is unlikely, and the optional alternate combat rules make note of this; the SR #1 tables are a sign that D&D as played by Gygax wasn't D&D as published, as they use d12's, d20's, and d100's. (It was several years more before pentagonal dipyramids were devised for use as d10's)