This is long-winded, but it's what I remember.
Years ago, I think I was nine, my grandfather decided that computers were going to be an essential part of the future, and he wanted to make sure I didn't miss out. So he took my dad and me to the RadioShack in the big mall across town. He spent $3,500 of his retirement savings, and we walked out with a brand new, top-of-the-line Tandy 2500 SX.
Soon after we brought it home, my dad, a high-school teacher, taught me how to run a few BASIC commands that he learned while teaching a typing class to his students. It's all pretty fuzzy at this point, but I remember telling the computer to print out some text and then a GOTO command to jump back to the top and print the text again...over and over.
I fell in love with that.
I read the reference manual cover to cover and learned everything I could. What was probably GW-BASIC at the time, eventually led to QBasic when we upgraded to Windows 3.1. My own text-based games and simple programs (not apps back then) followed.
At some point, I read in the QBasic help guide that you could build programs that used the mouse if you had Visual Basic. I found a copy of the software (in a box!) at the local computer shop and begged my parents to loan me the $99 to buy it. Instead, they surprised me with it for my birthday that year. From then on, I was the cool kid carrying around the Visual Basic user guide in their seventh-grade backpack.
Over the next years, I built simple clones of my favorite arcade games and useful tools that went along with whatever else I was learning. When I took two years of Japanese in high school, I built a simple text editor that let me type and print out my homework using a hand-drawn font I drew with Microsoft Paint. A year later, it was a program that graphed simple calculus equations. (My calculus teacher required we keep a journal of how we used math in everyday life. Instead of doing that, I asked if I could build him an app instead. That seemed more fun.)
And while I loved what I was building, I hated that I couldn't share my programs with anyone else. It was the mid-nineties, and mainstream downloadable software was still years away - especially using a dial-up connection.
But one day, I found the first issue of Boot magazine in the computer section of Waldenbooks. It had a short article titled "How-to Weave a Personal Web Page With Panache" (hell of a title) explaining HTML basics and a list of some very early free hosting providers. The ability to make a website, upload it, and have it immediately available to the entire world changed me. I kept building desktop programs, but from then on, my new focus was the web.
In 2000, I was surrounded by other nerds in my university's Computer Science department. So, naturally, I wiped Windows from my computer Freshman year and went all-in on Linux. That only deepened my connection to the web development world. And throughout the rest of college, I built website after website, some big, some small, did the occasional freelance job, and even attempted a few failed business ventures with other students.
And as much as I loved the immediacy and flexibility of building for the web, I still missed the concreteness and UX conventions of desktop software.
Following another student's footsteps a year ahead of me that I admired, I left Linux behind and bought my first iBook in 2003. OS X's Unix underpinnings meant I could keep doing my web work, but I immediately started learning Objective-C and Apple's developer frameworks.
Building desktop software again was like coming home.
When I graduated in 2005, there were no jobs for Mac developers that didn't involve moving to the West coast. So I fell back into web development, first at a miserable job doing C# (I did enjoy the language, however) and Flash (which I hated). But then I got lucky and found a small agency doing open-source work, which led to bigger and even better opportunities.
In 2007, with the Indie Mac Developer scene in full swing and downloadable software offering a real shot at earning a living, I went back to my desktop roots and built my first commercial Mac app. I've launched many other apps since then, but that first one is still going strong to this day.
When the App Store launched in 2008, moving to iOS was a natural progression. Same language. (Mostly) the same frameworks. A built-in distribution channel. And a gold-rush of companies hiring developers. I said goodbye to my web development career and never looked back.
So that's where I am today. Building iOS apps for clients, but sticking to my love of the desktop with my own software company.
Seventeen years of developing for Apple's various platforms, and I'm still excited every day.