What a great thread!
My first camera was a twinlens box camera - a Japanese plastic clone of some unknown brand. My grandfather rewarded me for my interest in photography by passing along his old Kodak Tourist folder with three shutter speeds and a "fast" f/8 lens. Later Dad got me a used Argus C-3, the one I think of as the "classic" before they tried to meter it up or streamline its bricklike form.
My first SLR was an old Practika that I bought from Altman's in Chicago by mail order with my high school bag boy earnings, followed shortly thereafter by a TLR Richoflex with a gawdawful shutter but decent optics (as long as you stopped down below the theoretical maximum of f/3.5). My first larger format was a 3 1/4 by 4 1/4 Speed Graphic that cost me all of 20 bucks completed with holders, a wooden carrying case and a couple of packs of out of code Tri X.
Thanks to all of you for reminding me of what a long strange photographic trip it's been.