I keep seeing the people posting what they started out with...
I feel "old" with all this stuff about people talking about Red Hat 4, and so forth.
I've watched it all from nearly the beginnings. SLS was the thing, Yggdrasil was the hot newcomer (...and did an amazing job of plug and play that wasn't beaten until Knoppix came along later on... Too bad they couldn't go the distance...). Slackware was the hot newcomer just after Yggdrasil, and Red Hat was just getting started and got hitched up with Caldera when they first came out (YES. Somewhere in my stuff is the Caldera Network Desktop previews 1 and 2, both based off of Red Hat...).
A lot of hard work from a lot of people have brought things to where they are today.
I remember reading an article somewhere, about the amazing evolution of Linux following the OSS development model, while for other Operating Systems, getting to the point they stand today, behind closed doors, have taken them almost twice the time it has taken Linux to achieve the same. It is no wonder that Linux (and other Free systems) will surpass these other systems, proving that the proprietary development model might not be as efficient it was once thought
Red Hat 4 or 5 (I don't remember exactly) but I used it for only few days (mostly sdoom :-) ) because it had no drivers for my hardware - graphic card, sound card, modem. Then after some time I've switched to SuSE 6.0 (I was impressed how good it was) and after that never versions of Red Hat and Mandrake (Mandriva). From two years I use Kubuntu on servers, workstations, terminals, etc.
OpenSUSE 10.2, though that pretty much scared me off from linux because
1. audio had some weird lag that would make it drag behind when watching a video
2. my WIFI didn't work, or it did occasionally, on some ~2 boots of 5.
Then I took a long break, got Mandriva 2007.1, was happy, broke it, got Ubuntu Feisty, wasn't happy (I hated GNOME and the lack of choice on system tweaking and options), and now got Mandriva 2008.0 and am happy.
I first used Linux back in 1994 when I was still in middle school, and I used a copy of Mandrake 6 that my cousin gave to me. I found the original box it came in a few months ago. I wanted to try it out again, but I do not have a computer that it can run on anymore.