I think it was about 95/96 I was an undergraduate student.
A friend of mine in the lab installed Slackware from floppies, complete with doom, on a pentium 120MHz. It was the only lab computer with a serious game. Linux seemed both alien and magical to a DOS/windows 3.1 user.
At the end of the year I was running c++ code on a Alpha station with RedHat 64bit installed, it was buggy (no X, console garbage) but faster and more useful than NT.
To think that it took me almost 10 years to come back to 64bit Linux on my workstation