My interest in photography started when I worked for Morganites in Jarrow after my studies, that's going back 50 years. We have to photograph waveforms while testing the raw materials and develope the films to analyse the results. That's how I was hooked on photography and dark room work, this lead evantually to love of cameras and camera collection.
I am not old enough for being able to have started with ancient technologies like pinhole cameras, but from what I discovered by using vintage cameras later, there is actually less technology required for taking a good photograph ... and that lets me often question the necessity of all those often complicated and sophisticated high tech stuff, we are using now.
".....and that lets me often question the necessity of all those often complicated and sophisticated high tech stuff, we are using now."
You are quite correct. Fortunately many of today's electronic miracles will allow one to operate with the simple basics of Aperture, Shutter speed and focus. That is, manually. I sometimes resort to that when I am not sure what all those electrons will do what I want. But they are usually right.
The ultimate simplicity is, of course the pin hole camera. We made several when we were young. No f-stop to worry about, focus free with good depth of field (but little resolving power). Exposure counted in seconds (if you use the right paper) so no need to be that accurate. Why have a lens with a shutter and f-stops to complicate the issue?
I had an old Brownie Holiday (127 film) when I was about nine. It was the last year Kodak produced it, and I'm sure my father got it for a bargain (I think they cost less than $5.00 new anyway)
I used it until I bought a used Voighlander Bessamatic in high school. I kept that (I still have two of them in my collection) until I needed interchangeable lenses I could afford in 1967, when I joined the staff of our college newspaper. I bought a new Mamiya 1000 DTL then (and went on to collect one of every Mamiya 35mm model ever made).
I had a "Secret Sam" spy kit in 1965, an attache case with a break apart sniper rifle, and various accessories. But the greatest thing was a little box camera mounted in the corner, that could take photos from inside the case. From there I discovered my parents' Zeiss Ikon Contina II camera. It was stuffed in the back shelf of the hall closet. I opened the leather cover, and fell in love with that baby! I learned photography with that camera. And I've since replaced my Secret Sam outfit on ebay.
My first was a plastic Beirette, a piece of junk! Regretfully I found this out after shooting 8 weeks on my first geological field work. That autumn I bought a Beautiflex TLR, which I - also regretfully - traded for a Zenit B (which still lurks around). The supplied Helios44 lens of the Zenit worked very well for me.