It all started with a combination of the Apple II+ and Apple IIe. My father was, and still is, quite the computer hobbyist, programming in assembly language, C, C++, Visual Basic, and HTML/CSS. He's been his university departments webmaster for years, and continues to tinker and learn. His first machine was an Apple IIe, which he learned everything he possibly could about, and passed that knowledge on to me in the form of my first computer, the Apple II+, and manuals and technical articles. I got my start on that machine, programming in BASIC and assembly language. Those were the crazy, pioneering days of personal computer technology, when programmers were akin to magicians, and I was five years old.
I rocked that machine well into high school, both programming on it and writing school papers. By the time I was finished with it, we'd attached a 20 MEGABYTE hard drive to it as well as a mouse, and I'd started trying to write a graphical user interface (ala Macintosh or Apple IIgs... remember GSOS?) for it. About mid-high school, my parents invested in their first Macintosh (circa 1996), the Performa 450. This what around the time Apple had released a myriad of confusing configurations. No one knew what any of the names or numbers meant. That computer lasted my parents until sometime when I was in college, when they upgraded to a second-generation iMac.
As for me, when I entered college, I entered the world of the PC. I'd avoided it as long as I could, hearing horror stories of blue-screens-of-death and lost data. Fortunately for me, I purchased my first PC just before Microsoft released Windows ME, so I avoided a lot of the issues that my friends who bought computers saw later. My machine was a highly customized Gateway PC, with an 800Mhz Pentium II processor and 128 megabytes of memory, a 20 gigabyte hard drive, and a 15-inch CRT monitor. Looking back on it, it seems like such an underpowered machine, but it was state-of-the-art at the time.
That machine carried me through college in pretty decent fashion. After graduation, I decided I'd also graduated to a laptop, which took the form of a Dell Inspiron 1100. With a 2.4GHz Celeron, 256 megabytes of memory, and a 40 gigabyte hard drive, it was a definite upgrade. I actually still use this box, rocking Fedora 9 Linux. It's been upgraded to 1 gigabyte of memory and a 80 gigabyte hard drive, but all the other parts are still original. My wife has the same laptop, and it still works great for her.
A few years ago I tried my hand at system building, and ended up with a custom-built desktop designed around an Asus M2N-E SLI motherboard with an AMD Athlon 64 5400+ processor. It's loaded with 2 gigabytes of memory and over 1 terabyte of total hard drive space. It's a great machine, runs anything I throw at it, and stores and backs up all of my photos and music.
My last purchase came in the form of a new laptop. It's an HP Pavilion DV7-1270us. It's got an Intel Core 2 Duo 8600 in it, rocking at 2.4Ghz, 4 gigabytes of memory, and a 320 gigabyte hard drive. It's a really nice machine, my main recording machine, and plays all the games and runs all the software I want it to.
So, as you can see, I've owned and used quite a cross-section of machines in my time. What does your PC history look like? I'd like to see what you've owned/used over the years.