It was late 1998, I enrolled at Lincoln College (UK) to do several A-levels. At the time i thought the PCs must be upto date, by I later realised they were far from state of the art! The "Learning Resources Centre" had about 20 or 30 Dan or Research Machines 386's linked with parallel cables on dial up internet with Windows 3.11 for workgroups! They were slow even for the time, around the rest of the college was not much better, Mostly Windows 95, 98 500mhz P2/3s. All of these were eventually replaced with Dell P4 / 2.4ghz machines in 2001/2.
After 3 years of college I went to Lincoln University in 2001, for a couple of years. This is when I really got into computers, after my student loans had dried up a bit, after all that drinking, and I had to get some work done. As I did not have a PC at first, I spent a lot of time in the library writing essays and researching. However, it closed at midnight so I decided to had to get a PC, and being my first PC i got ripped off by buying a friends IBM 486 for 40 quid!! It was a right state, software wise. It had Windows 95 on about a 500mb hard drive. I spent most of my time trying to work out what was wrong with it and how to get it to work properly. I later discovered (about a couple of years ago) that someone had compressed their documents into a hidden H:/ Drive, so much so it could not be decompressed to format with fdisk. My mind was not really on my studies, though I spent a lot of time enjoying myself! I dropped out of University and have been unemployed for a good while, trying to get a foot in the door of the IT industry.
I discovered Linux fairly recently (about 4 years ago), after picking up some old magazines in a charity shop (10p each!) whilst on a web design college course. I downloaded my first distro - Red Hat 9 - on the college internet (much improved by then) though the discs became corrupt I never gave up. I tried Mepis which I was impressed with, installing it on a Pentium 3, 733mhz, machine i picked up for 20 quid. Then there was Suse 9.2 / 9.3 which was great on DVD as I didn't have an internet connection, they had plenty of software. I must've tried hundreds of distros since then, but I have finally settled on Ubuntu 7.10. It's been dual booting with XP on my current PC (ASUS K8-UX, 1.25Gb ram / 200 + 160 + 20 GB hard drives) as it recognises my Ralink wireless card first boot, everything just works, so easy to use. I used to be a KDE fan but have switched to Gnome because Compiz Fusion works with it straight away. I do still use some KDE apps like my favourite media player Amarok.