It all started when...
I somehow was given a Brownie Bullet camera. It may have been for Christmas or a birthday - I don't remember if or which, and I don't remember when, though I was probably an adolescent or young teenager. That very basic camera used 127 film. The lens was not great, but combined with either Verichrome Pan or Kodacolor and the "right" light, the resulting photos could be evocative, dreamy or a simple record.
I had no illusion that I was "a photographer" and it was only when I left home for my first job in Toronto that my interest was renewed. My apartment mate had a Canon FTb and somehow I got interested again. Part of the draw was the higher technical quality of the resulting images.
Two years later I was assigned to a new location, in London, Ontario. My curiosity piqued, I ended up buying a Konica C35V, a compact, scale focus camera. It certainly wasn't "high end", but the 38mm f2.8 lens was actually quite good. Besides, it was what I could afford; my job at the time provided a very meagre income which hardly covered my living expenses.
Most of the time I could only afford black & white film and had to learn to develop film myself. Colour was nearly always Kodachrome, sometimes Ektachrome. Rarely did I shoot colour negative film - in the early to mid-70s colour negative film was far inferior to transparency stock - at least that was my view.
I wasn't very satisfied with my photos. I didn't know why, but I thought they were crap 99% of the time. So I took a class through a local college. The instructor, an adjunct teacher, was a very cool dude whose life and core beliefs were polar opposites to mine. But damn, he engaged me, challenged me, and after the class I "hired" him as a private tutor. That gave me access to his home darkroom, and I also used the dark room at University of Western Ontario (now Western University) when I need to process and print.
When I could afford it (barely,) I bought an Olympus OM-1 with 50mm f1.8 lens. These were the original releases of Olympus' compact SLR line, discounting the same model that was badged "M-1". The M-1 was quickly withdrawn from the market when Leica threatened to sue for trademark infringement.
Over the years I have both progressed and regressed - the same ebb and flow that life presents. Gear has both enabled progress and been of no consequence. Sometimes a new camera or lens(es) has enabled the expression of a vision or idea otherwise impossible. Sometimes the gear is a diversion and gets in the way.
Currently I have too much gear, so I am in the early stages of "thinning the herd". I just have to meditate on what equipment is essential to my work.