It was about 5+ years ago that I was reading slashdot.org and came across a post about a do-it-yourself MP3 player project called minty MP3. My mind was blown. I was a programmer already, but I had no experience with hardware level programming or circuit design. This tutorial by “Ladyada” was a revelation. I had not been exposed to the idea that one could build something like this in a garage, and I was totally hooked. I signed up for classes at UCSD, in their embedded computer engineering program, and I have been obsessed with this stuff ever since. (I’m in my garage playing with stepper motors right now!)
I know that Ladyada has inspired a lot of geeks like me.