It was around 1986 and Steve Jobs had popularized personal computers. After being exposed to Apple IIe's at elementary school and using Turtle Graphics LOGO
to draw iterative pictures, my sister and I were somewhat enthusiastic about them. My father
decided to purchase an Apple IIc
from a department store (I don't remember which; it's either Sears or the now-defunct Bamberger's).
During this time I had a subscription to 3-2-1 Contact magazine. Every issue would contain 2 or 3 pages of source code to a somewhat amusing program, given in various flavors of BASIC (Commodore, Apple, etc.). I would eagerly type them into the machine to see what the programs did. Of course, these programs were rather short and limited, and I ended up fiddling with the source code to extend capabilities. Reading the manuals that came with the computer, I eventually learned Apple BASIC. I churned out programs that used the rudimentary 16-color 40x50 graphics and the pulse speaker (PEEK and POKE, how cute). The machine did everything I told it to. If it didn't, it was because I made a mistake in the code. Everything was a direct result of my doing. It was as close to omnipotence as any kid could get.
Time went by, technology improved. I got a PC and was soon twiddling with 256-color VGA graphics and 8-bit DACs with a SoundBlaster clone. x86 ASM, Pascal, C - it was all yummy. By this time, I was a teenager and I knew what I wanted to do. I completed my BSc in Computer Science in 2001 and am currently a software engineer. Having my hobby turn into work has not changed my passion for it at all.
My father probably could not have imagined how much that purchase would influence my life. I thank him for it.
P.S. the Apple IIc still functions as well as it did over 13 years ago. The only thing that ever needed repairing was the dot-matrix printer.