It began many years ago. In a place much like this one. I was a lot younger then, a little kid really. I was able to get my hands on a even-then obsolete Commodore 64. One of my Mom's friends found it cleaning out their garage and sold it to us for $50. It was the unit, the official Commodore-branded monitor and the tape drive. A few weeks later, I picked up the 5.25" floppy drives at a junk store. About a year later I got a slightly less obsolete DOSbox - some unknown Tandy POS. These were my introduction to computing, together with an elective on BASIC programming in 7th grade and a very beat-up book of basic programs from the library. No modems or BBS fun. I very much missed out on the glory days of the "Hi-tech, low-life" cyberpunk lifestyle of the late '80s and early '90s. That's not to say I wasn't messing around with other technologies, but I lived in the sticks rather than the sprawl and that kind of thing took it's toll on the would-be H4x0r.
Not to be deterred, a few years later when I was living in my first apartment, my old friend from high school (His first handle was Qualapecs' Tomb and later Project 7) was living in an apartment in the next building over. He had paid for a dial-up account from a local ISP and connected his roomate's POS Packard Bell (I think it was a 486 with maybe Windows 3.11 on it) up to the interwebs. I had stopped by to see him and bum a smoke, and got my first introduction to the internet and something called "chat". Actually, it was a website called Chatphiles, and was an X-Files themed html chat site. It was painfully slow if you are into something like IRC, but it was a lot of fun. A day or two later another friend of mine (Paul, now deceased. RIP buddy) let me use his laptop for a bit to surf the WWW and I had a blast searching on Ask Jeeves and Web Crawler for ancient history websites and stuff on Sumerian Mythology. Don't judge.
By now, we are around the year 1998. I had been seeing ads on television for Gateway computers. They made pretty decent boxes back then, and you could trade your Gateway in after two years towards the purchase of a new one. I had been telling my aforementioned friend (Project 7) about it, and he actually went ahead and got one. I will admit I was kind of shocked. A short time later, I made my first major purchase as an adult, a Gateway Micro-Tower. I still remember the specs. A Pentium II @ 350 Mhz, 64 MB of RAM, a 10 GB HDD and probably one of the first internal CD burners extant. It was kind of terrible, but it worked as long as you burned from the hard drive. I later purchased a 3dFX Voodoo 3 PCI card and upgraded that POS burner with a Samsung 48x burner that happened to go on sale. Eventually also replaced Windows 98 with Windows 98 SE. A small, but important upgrade. Before it was all said and done, I think I managed to get the RAM upgraded as well, but I don't remember how much. 128 MB? 256 MB? I no longer remember.
I suppose it should go without saying that I spent an unhealthy amount of time in chat and working on websites at places like this one that would give you 10 megs for free with those annoying-ass pop-up ads. Geocities and possibly Angelfire you could block them by adding the noscript tag to your html documents. Just throw it in at the bottom. I don't think Geocities ever fixed it, but maybe Angelfire did. I should probably mention this very bare-bones website template. That's right, I said template. Normally, I would go and update my HTML skills and do this up right with 100% new and awesome code that is all mine, but there are a few things you should know about this code. First, I have modified it from the original template, as it was kind of crappy, and I removed some junk code and tried to clean up the look, center the whole thing and set the fonts to make it a little clearer. I did remove the original link to the publishing site that created it, as it doesn't exist anymore. So why did I use it? Two reasons. The first is it's vintage. probably circa 1999 and HTML 4.0 code. Barring anything I changed and didn't think about. The second reason is that I always kind of liked this template, and I never really got to use it. I didn't pay anything for it, they gave these away for free for personal use. I just liked it, and recently discovered that I still had the original .zip file after all these years. In a way, it's kind of fun to imagine how I might update the code. It's such a simple design, switching it to css and html 5 probably wouldn't be that hard, actually.