I got started playing D&D (and RPGs in general) in 2003. My Dad and I were out and happened to see the D&D Adventurer Box, the 3rd Edition starter set, on a shelf somewhere. He'd played AD&D when he was a teenager, and picked up the set for me. He'd told me about playing a ranger back in the day, so I renamed the premade fighter PC to a ranger. He ran two of my friends and I through the introductory adventure, which was a fairly simple "go smash some goblins and get the princess back" and I was hooked.
I ran my friends through the other adventures that were in the box; I think there were three total. I occasionally reused the map and wrote simple adventures that were all rehashes on the "a wizard hires you to go retrieve something out of this cave" theme. That was fun, but I wanted more than the pregenerated characters - I wanted a full D&D set, and that Christmas, I got it.
My uncle, an avid gamer himself, bought me the Third Edition Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual. I still have the first two, but unfortunately, the Monster Manual's binding came apart while I was in high school. Shortly after that Christmas, I spent a few days at my uncle's house playing D&D in the evenings, where I got to go through my first full-rules adventure: The Sunless Citadel. To this day, it remains one of my favorite adventures; it had a dragon, kobolds, goblins, an evil spellcaster, a mystery to be solved. To my mind, it still has everything a first-level adventure needs to be successful. It even had foreshadowing elements about the dragon Ashardalon, the iconic Third Edition big bad villain.
After I played through The Sunless Citadel, I moved on to running a game for my friends. I wrote a few of my own adventures, played through a few I found in the pages of Dungeon, and generally played as much D&D as I could. I eventually switched over to 3.5, as all the cool new books coming out were written for 3.5 rather than 3.0, and I got the 4E Player's Handbook about a year after it came out.
I've been gaming for the last decade, and I've got no intentions of stopping any time soon.