My first camera was a Cosmic Symbol. Direct vision with a 3 element 50mm f4 lens and leaf shutter (1/30 to 1/250) if I recall. It was a gift from a colleague at work who also gave me my first lesson in developing and printing. What did it do for my photography? Well two things a) it began my love affair with taking pictures, something I had no interest in until he gave it to me. It also made me eternally grateful for the Zenith E I bought six months later (will Leningrad light meter). After that a series of Canon SLRs that started with an FX and ended with a F1. Interestling I have only ever disposed of three pieces of equipment. Two I sold and one I wore out. So here I am with nine Canon bodies. Ah well it pays to have a backup or two. 35mm taught me to be careful. It is very easy to mess up such a small negative. When the MF bug bit I got a Pentacon Six. When it really bit I got a mamiya 645. To stop it chewing my leg off I bought an Exakta 66. You've guessed it folks, I'm single and have a very limited wardrobe. My latest buy was a Linhof Kardan GT with Technica adapter. Before you think I spend my time buying cameras, this little lot took nearly 30 years to accumulate. I got that cosmic symbol when I was 17.