"[...] IT back then was crap, [...]"
It was subjectively exciting. The dopamine rush on achieving the "impossible" is a universal human reward.
What many of us youngsters didn't realise was that we were often pioneers. If our boss gave us a job to do - we would ask how to do it. To which the effective answer was that no one had done it before - so you'll have to work it out for yourself.
Being in computer development allowed plenty of scope for treating the latest massive mainframe as your personal toy. Wow! - a whole 1MB of store.
As technical support we bridged the gap between the System/Application programmers and the hardware engineers. We knew our way round both silos. That depth of experience gave us an uncommon grasp of how IT works at all levels.
I can still get that rush from an Arduino project - needing similar skills to my early mainframes and my prior teenage radio/electronics hobby.
I also get that same high when sculpting human likenesses in clay. There is a lot of similarity in the ups and downs of both creative projects - except you can't checkpoint clay against disasters as you progress. A colleague once remarked that I write software like someone modelling in clay - probably what is called DevOps nowadays.