I did not have a computer before Windows, so I lack the shared experience of learning on an Amiga or Commodore64 so many others who became computer-geeks do.
My first computer was when I was 13. I had a Windows 3.1/DOS 386. I played DOS games, wrote stories in WordPerfect (white text on a blue screen), and fiddled around in Paint.
At some point that computer broke, and my dad—a construction worker who did not understand technology—didn't feel like replacing it. It was back to the pre-digital life for a while, subsisting on the Nintendo and SEGA.
A few years later, after some saving of my own money, I got my second computer, the one that changed everything: A Pentium 100MHz with Windows 95 and... a modem.
I lived on the computer. I built web pages for video games I was playing, learned how to FTP and set up hosting, how to upgrade the hardware that seemed to constantly be outdated, wrote stories in Microsoft Works, and did graphic design in the Corel graphics suite.
Then, the summer between 9th and 10th grade, I got a job as an "assistant network administrator" for $5.25 an hour at a company that made VHS instruction tapes about computers and technology for professionals to up their skills. I would fix their computers, the network, update the website, and even worked on the soundstage as a camera operator filming experts talking about Access 2.0, VisualBasic, or how to get an MCSE certification.
I took tapes home and watched them. I learned about graphic design, HTML, software development, databases, all through watching these tapes. Instead of being a teenager out playing, I had a tiny VCR/TV combo next to the family computer.
I wasn't even in high school, and my life had become about learning how to use a computer to make things. The creative energy in me veered toward the graphic and written side of what computers could do. Instead of learning programming languages like so many other young computer geeks in the early 90's, I was in love with visual design, interface design, and content design.
The design technologist, writer, and digital artist was born.