My first step in a journey of 1,00 miles...
I remember my dad taking me to the local sorting office 37 years ago to collect the parcel from Sinclair, a shiny (well, actually no) new ZX81. One of the pre-assembled ones. I imagine this is why I ended up in software rather than hardware - no soldering required. I never could get the damned thing to load anything from tape, so I had to bash in listings from magazines, and then from that took the step to figuring out that by understanding this "gibberish" I could then change those games and make them do what I wanted.
And so began my life as a self-taught software developer.
My own personal computing history then went down a slightly esoteric route. While most of my friends had Speccies or Breadbins (C64's), with a couple of Electron's and even one Dragon32, my upgrade path took me to a TI-99/4a since a lot of my family (large number of aunts and uncles) not to mention my own parents at an earlier time, worked for Texas Instruments. When they pulled out of the home computing market staff they sold off stock to employees at bargain basement prices. Idiosynchratic as it was, it was a damned fine machine.
My path then returned to a more conventional route, with an Amiga 500 and after teaching myself C and Pascal programming with the multitasking GUI OS I then landed a job building software for this new fangled "Windows" on PC's which seemed positively antique compared to the Amiga (this was before even Windows 3.0).
Thus began a career in computing and software, all thanks to my late dad and that ZX81.
I've recently started assembling a museum of that personal computing history (the original equipment having been on-sold or disposed of, sadly not being appreciated at the time for the future value - sentimental or otherwise - that it would hold).
The one exception being my original ZX81, but that hasn't actually worked since the late 80's. But I have now replaced it with one from ebay in near-mint condition, including original box and sleeve.
There's something magical about switching on these old machines and seeing them spring to life as eager to please as ever, oblivious to the passing of time that has rendered them obsolete as anything other than curios and objects of affection.