I believe I had to get ahold of a plugin even back in 2.2 for it, but I remember there being a button beside '...More' for splitting up the post into a new page. Even if there wasn't (and I can always do a test-install of that old version n a fresh directory or ibay, ) keeping pagination out of the core features would be as bad an idea as adding in tags was a very, <i>very good idea</i>.
I think it was a feature to the post-making toolbar back in 2005-2006, so rather many versions back, but I think I can quite understand if they are looking to eliminate confusion between 'Newer posts' and 'older posts' in the navigation between blog entries. I think hi is mostly a templating and wording issue though, and should not be a valid reason to shy away from the feature/having pagination as a core feature.
Of course the wordpress team has known what they are doing since the very beginning, since <!--newpage--> is something I can easily remember using, since y stories hit the 500kb mark when getting loaded all at once.
Ok, it's version 1.5 that has a plugin, an old one, called [url="http://www.scriptygoddess.com/archives/2004/05/23/wppaginate/"]wpPaginate[/url], so that should fit with my time using it - 2004-2005.
But a plugin for 2.5/2.6 I haven't found... Ah, let's try the plugin database. post again in a bit.