Jeff Atwood posted today about Core Wars. He mentions the articles in Scientific American about them. I vividly remember reading these when I was in 4th grade or so. My parents read Scientific American back then so I assume they gave me the articles.
I remember being just fascinated at a really deep level by the idea of writing programs and having them seem to live and fight. At that point in my life I had done a lot of Logo programming on Apple ][‘s but nothing much beyond that. It was only a year or so later that we got one of the original IBM PCs and I started hacking in Basic and later Turbo Pascal.
I remember typing in 100s of lines of basic from magazines at the beginning. I spent a lot of time debugging those programs due to my typos. :)
For whatever reason, programming has always been in my blood. I feel very thankful that my life happened to coincide with the rise of computers and the Internet, so I can do what I love and support my family at the same time.