I just got tagged by my old friend Jacob Sebastian at Beyond Relational, and it turns out it's my turn to explain how I became such a geek :)
Way back in the day I got my start on the TRS-80 Model III (affectionately known as the "Trash-80s"), a nice little Z-80 based desktop computer with an 80x25 monochrome screen and a whopping 64KB of memory. When I say "desktop", I mean it could fill an entire desktop :) After playing some games written in BASIC on it I started getting curious about what made the games work. So I started reverse-engineering them and eventually got to where I could actually write my own games on it. Around that same time I got to start writing code on a Commodore 64 (oh, the colors and sounds!) Of course creating database applications on a computer with 64KB of memory, a processor designed to run toaster ovens and a tape drive proved a little more challenging than I cared for :)
Fast-forward a few years - I started writing Turbo Pascal ("terrible Pascal" anyone?) programs on PC compatibles (the ones with the incredible 16 color palette -- only 4 colors viewable at any one time...) And my memory suddenly spiked up to 640KB ("no one will ever need more" -- I still believe it!) I actually wrote several increasingly complex homemade database management programs myself during that time, until I finally got my hands on a copy of dBase and realised someone else had already built the database engine. Talk about an epiphany--suddenly I could concentrate on designing databases and not database engines!
Around 1995 I was introduced to the world of relational databases with SQL Server 6.0. Since then I've been plugging away at SQL and learning new things with each new release. I'm still fascinated at the potential of database systems and where we're headed.
I guess my best advice to anyone who wants to be a geek would be explore all the interesting code samples you can find and don't get discouraged, even when your code breaks on the first 99 runs :)
To continue the chain I'd like to tag a couple of folks that I'm personally interested in finding out about their start in this field:
* SQL Server guru extraodinaire, Adam Machanic
* THE Powershell Grandmaster (and Bill Gates body double), Allen White