Like many others, my first camera was a Brownie. After that was a 110 instamatic.
At 14 I had to get an SLR for a beginner photography class in HS, so knowing absolutely nothing I saved up my paper-route money and got a Yashica FX-3 with a 50mm lens. It was fully manual and forced me to learn about everything which turns around metering.
Unfortunately, an acquaintance decided to take my FX-3 out in a boat in order to take some pics of me sailing (he did it without my permission) and dropped the camera into the lake. I was both angry and very sad at the same time. I replaced the FX-3 with a Minolta X-700 and went from there. Funny thing, though, I still only use the X-700 in manual mode, although my wife uses it in automatic mode.