Pre 1980s: daydreaming along with everyone else about computers making photo-real 3D. There was no such thing however.
1982: Attended local LA Siggraph at The Art Center, got to meet John Whitney Sr., Jim Blinn, and Ed Emshwiller. First Siggraph film&video show. Wow. Stuff like the first animated ray-tracing that anyone had seen, the whole room gasping audibly at the first 35 seconds of the Cranston-Csuri demo reel (ok, it looks cheesy now but this shit was like angels singing):
1983: Attended local LA Siggraph at Cal Tech. Apple was demoing the Apple Lisa (I had to have one). More great film&video inspiration. The theme was “On the threshold of a dream” and they had a great poster (which I have now lost) with three CG images on it.
Then POV, Bryce, etc. until Inspire3D (an almost complete version of Lightwave 5.x that was $500 or so). Stepped up to full Lightwave when Inspire got dropped and they offered an upgrade deal. XSI Foundation 3 and then Foundation 4 (like Inspire, an almost complete version of XSI for $400 or so). Foundation was awesome, had no copy protection, did most of what full XSI did. Upgraded to XSI Essentials when they dropped Foundation and offered an upgrade deal.
Played around with Mac Renderman for a while in there somewhere.
Autodesk bought Softimage, so I discovered modo 302, used primarily modo until 10.x, skipping only 90x. Also ZBrush, Substance Painter, and various misc tools.
The last couple years playing with Blender and really liking it. Now spending much of my spare time learning and helping out with support and occasional development stuff where I can.