I first learned SQL on a Britton Lee Intelligent Database Machine (IDM). It was expensive and took up a few square meters of floor space in the computer room. It wasn’t practical to have one at home, although I did meet one person who did have one at home. With a six-figure price tag, learning at home was impossible. Once personal computers started appearing, the cost of hardware wasn’t a show stopper, but the cost of the software sometimes was. People would format the hard drive and reinstall everything when trial software would expire.
Now people can legally download and install SQL Server Express for free. Cost is no longer an insurmountable barrier. Convenience has also improved. There wasn’t anybody I could ask for help on SQL when I started coding SQL for the Britton Lee. I was the only person doing SQL. The internet and search engines were still concepts, not reality. Blogs like this one might not have even been a concept back then. Now you can search, post questions, and get all kinds of help quickly and for free.