Since I was young I have always loved to make stuff. I started with simple electronic circuits, it was great but it was difficult finding all the devices I needed for my circuits. It was my first love, that is because I decided to graduate in Electronic Engineering. But as hobby I started to program. It is so nice because you need just a computer.
I started programming with my cousin's Computer (Marco Siino) when I was 9 years old. It was a Commodore Vic 20 and was simply fantastic. The main lack of its BASIC was the graphical functions, you have to do graphic stuff in assembly but it was difficult finding a book about the Vic 20 inside...
Then, when I was 12, I bought a Commodore 64 on which I wrote tens of programs. When I started programming in assembler, a friend of mines showed me Simon's BASIC, it was great. I can do whatever I want without using "poke".... I programmed some Pascal at high school. And I found a version of Pascal running on my C64. Probably the C64 hardware was the better used in informatics history.
When I was 17 the IBM compatible PC were chip enough to buy one. I took a 40MHz 386, 4MB RAM, 130MB. It was a great experience. I enjoyed programming in QBASIC. The greatest new concept was the ability to create new function in the language using subroutines. One year later I bought my first printer: Epson Stylus 800, it was one of the first spread ink jet printer. The quality was great but after some year its head break and it was too expensive to fix it. After that I have always bought printer where the head is a standard user replaceable component.
I bought a new computer at university, I was 20. It was a Pentium (without coprocessor BUG :-))) running at 100MHZ, 8MB RAM, 800MB HD. On which I made a lot of Turbo Pascal programs and eventually C. Three years later I was buying my first 56K modem (from a friend of mines, Pietro Cusmano), which opened a slow door on the Internet.
I took my first notebook when I was 22. It was a Texas Instruments Pentium 100MHz, 8MB RAM, 800MB HD still working. I used it to write part of my thesis.
At the end of my University career I bough an Athlon 500MHz, 128MB RAM, 13GB HD. I started learning about Linux and programming in C language. I still use that computer, every time I go back to my parents' home. It works fine on my Ubuntu distribution!!!
At this point I started working. I spent two years between Rome and Palermo working for Ericsson. I was too busy to spend time programming, which I was already doing for my company. I was involved in the development of software for new generation networks. It was a nice period of my life because I met a lot of good friends. By the way I discovered J2ME, the Java language version for mobile phones. I was involved in the development of a small application, that was the begin of a love...
Eventually I moved to Turin, to work for Motorola to develop new mobile phone hardware. Here I bought a new laptop: a small 1200MHz Celeron, with 256MB RAM, 20GB HD and shared video memory. It was great because I knew something about J2ME and I was able to buy a phone to develop some code. First of all I bought a V66, then I started developing code of ShoppingList, one of my best programs. Two years later, as birthday present, my wife let me found the pieces of a new computer to assemble. It was fantastic: there was a Pentium 4 running at 3GHz, 1GB RAM, 80GB HD, Intel mother board and all the other pieces required to assemble it. I installed Fedora 3 (updated to 4 and eventually 5). Then I bought a new nVidia gForce 6200 video card. It was really difficult have it working on Fedora (it leaves a cursor ghost using GIMP, OpenOffice and other programs). When eventually I fixed the problem updating the kernel and installing nVidia driver other problems starting to happen with USB pen disk. Therefore I moved to Ubuntu 6.10, it took a short time to install the graphic adapter, also thanks to the problem I had on Fedora. And this is the computer from which I am writing this Internet web site. By the way I am writing the site from the source code. Everybody should work from the source code to get better result and understanding. This is the main reason why I support the Open Source philosophy.
The most important thing I understood in those years is: it does not matter the hardware you own while it matters the software you write.