And there's probably no better way to get you started than by telling my own story...
If memory serves me well, my first hands-on experience with computers started with an Atari 800XL at home and a HDD-less IBM PC at school. With the former I basically just played games, and with the latter I was taught how to browse through DOS directories, in other words, so much for hands-on computing!
Eventually we got an actual PC at home which was a clone powered by an Intel 386SX CPU running at 33MHz, 2MB of RAM and a whooping 80MB of hard drive space. The machine served me well for a while until it got upgraded to 4MB of RAM, a 486SX CPU (40MHz) and a multimedia bundle from Creative Labs that was comprised of a soundcard, a pair of speakers and a CD-ROM drive. I ran Windows 3.1 along with DOS which I didn't drop completely until I was forced to do so in later Windows releases. The use for this computer was very basic as you can imagine. I always played whatever games were available at the time using the keyboard, but word processing and overall tinkering with the machine was the most typical use this computer would get. With the faster processor and optical drive a whole new world opened, there was Wolfenstein 3d, Doom and a plethora of shareware applications from which I remember one of the earlier versions of Paint Shop Pro, which got me started with graphics editing. Of course, the first digital encyclopedias were all the rage at the time as well.
I don't quite recall how much the original machine cost but I believe it was somewhere in the $2,000 ballpark, only to be sold years later for a fraction of that. My next step up was a big one to a Compaq Presario 9240 mid-tower, a Pentium 133 MHz machine of which I also have a dozen tales to share, but I won't bother you with that :).
So, what's your story? Discuss.