In 1972 when I was a H.S. Sophomore, my High School (Cleveland Heights/University Heights High School) acquired a PDP-8e with 8k core memory & 4 teletype terminals using paper tape for program storage. It ran a version of DEC Basic. That took 20 minutes to load from paper tape after a minimal boot loader had been keyed in with the toggle switches on the front panel. Fortunately the machine was very stable because a crash meant you probably couldn't get it rebooted that class period.
Computer Science was an 9 week elective class which I took in 1973. After the mandatory "Hello World", branching, subroutine & data statement lessons, I remember having an assignment to program a craps game. I also wrote a program that punched out words on the paper tape that one of the candidates for Student Council used for mini election banners.
With only about 1.2k of ram left for each terminal after Basic was loaded and no disk storage, our programs were necessarily short & simple - but we did learn programming basics.
Where i got a 1998 CD set with Slackware, TurboLinux, Debian & RedHat. None of which I could get working well on my anemic hardware.
The drivers for my CDRom had to be compiled into the kernel, so I had to make floppies from Windows 95 to install a barebones system that could compile the CD drivers before I could get X installed...
In 2000 when I first got DSL I re-purposed an old 386 to be my first router with Coyote Linux.
Mandrake from 2001 to 2004 -> Ubuntu in 2005 -> SimplyMEPIS 2006 - present. With my music server running running Slackware, then Vector, then MEPIS With trials along the way of Antix, Debian, Puppy, Damn Small, Feather, Knoppix, Zenwalk, Gentoo & probably some I've forgotten.
I love waking up slowly on a day off with my fiancee in our waterbed...