I had only known of the phrase from the lyrics to the Pink Floyd song Shine on you crazy diamond and had always assumed that they had coined it. However, I stumbled upon a book by Alastair Reynolds called On the steel breeze.
I was wondering whether the title is a reference to the song or not so I ran a couple of Google searches which came up with 21,100,000 uses of the phrase, including a rock band from the '80s and a maker of parachutes. A Google NGram search for the phrase returned nothing.
This answer, claims that the phrase existed long before Pink Floyd and that it means "cold breeze". However, there are no references given and I have not heard it used in that context.
So, I am wondering if the phrase was indeed coined by Pink Floyd and all subsequent uses are references to the song or if the phrase already existed before they used it and the song's popularity is masking older uses. If the latter, I would also like to know what it means.