Your first system and your journey...


Since we are on a audiophile (or is that audio-pile) site many, if not most, have had some decent systems.  I would enjoy in hearing from all/any about what your first system was made up of.  Mine was a Dynaco, I think something like a 35, tube integrated with some small British two way speakers and a BSR McDonald turntable with something like a 44E Shure cartridge , ...and yes, lamp cord for wires and whatever came on the turntable.  It is almost sad to say I have spent much more on some interconnects than that first system cost. 
whatjd
My first? My very first? Memory’s a little hazy but it was probably Realistic. For sure it was bought at Radio Shack with paper route money back in 1973. After riding my bike there many times, and hours of listening to everything they had, moving the speakers around, sometimes pestering sales with questions, other times sneaking around to hook up different speakers to compare. So yeah I been at it a while. Anyway: two hefty bookshelf size speakers, a Realistic (probably) receiver/record changer, some thin lamp cord, and the supplied plastic power cord.

That was the very first one.

PS- the room was of course acoustically treated- DIY egg cartons. Because: Hello!? Thirteen! Paper route money!
1983. Technics SLB2 table (9volt RIAA into a Vox AC30) then a Rotel RA840 amp and Kef Coda 3 speakers. Years before that a mono tube Pilot radio and an ancient idler.
And to add a bit of nothing to my original post, one of my best friends Mom had a truck stop/diner near a small Iowa town.  She would let us use the quarters with the fingernail polish on them (so she would get them back) to play early 60s rock until she couldn't take it any longer.....had our 8th grade "Graduation Party" there.  It was the beginning of the British Invasion and I went to sleep every night listening to WLS from Chicago or KAAY from Little Rock.  Went through a great deal of paper route money on 9-volt batteries. 
My first "system" was a $20 portable phonograph. It was followed shortly thereafter by an H. H. Scott integrated turntable/receiver with Scott speakers, manufactured when Mr. Scott no longer owned the company. The first system that I would refer to without the quotes, though, consisted of a Sony turntable, Shure cartridge, Kenwood receiver, and Avid speakers, ca. 1978.

Best regards,
-- Al

Almost forgot about the portable record player. Closed up like a mini suitcase. That would've been 69, 69, something like that. But I can't count that, because it wasn't "mine". As in I didn't buy it. My first system really was a system.
1) Motorola portable record player...yes it folded like a suitcase ~ 1964
2) a little red Lear Jet portable 8 track tape player, hitachi portable cassette player, Panasonic Transistor Radio
3) Sanyo compact stereo system
4) separates from Lafayette Radio 1978
5) Hitachi Class G receiver and Ohm L speakers, Philips 312 Table 1978
6) Tandberg receiver And Ohm Walsh 2s and Linn turntable, Magnavox CD player
7) Tandberg and Magnepan and Sony CD player
8) Carver separates and Magnepan
9) Carver Separates and B&W
10) Carver separates and New Ohm Walsh, Roku and Logitech streamers
11) Musical Fidelity and ARC and Ohms, MHDT Dac
12) Bel Canto ARC and Ohms
My first stereo was a carpeted 8track player with built in speakers at the foot of my bed.
 Had two carpeted cushioned stools which slid under it.
  I was 10 or eleven years old, and I would play 4 8 tracks nightly,
bill joel 42nd st.
styx grand illusion and paradise theatre.
kiss destroyer.


Upon my my early teens, I ventured into my dads reel to reel, and old Beatles, waylon, strawberry alarm clock records and a bunch more were daily spun.

  Had a few stereos since then,lots of good gear.

currently happy w my current gear.
hope to get 10 more years from components.
My first real system incorporated 1950's era Heathkit tube components (preamp, power amp, AM tuner) that my dad soldered together on the kitchen table. I had a Garrard record changer with a crystal cartridge. A no-name speaker. I'd play classical, pop and kiddie 78's, 45s and 33s. I was maybe six years old. It was about 1958. I was in seventh heaven.
Though I did own a couple of the all in one TT systems prior, my1st actual system, purchased in 1970, was Dual1219 w/ Sure V15 type II, Sansui AU-555 integrated, Pioneer 63dx speakers, Teac  4010s R2R. 
1959 Zenith Portable w/ Cobra Tonearm
Up to 1968 Dad's system.
1968 Dynaco PAS 3X, Stereo 70, AR 2Ax, Thorens TD 124 w/ ADC Pritchard tonearm (used) and Empire cartridge (I think) 
1971 Dynaco Stereo 120 (big mistake)
1972 Klipsh Heresy's used Marantz 7C preamp.
1973 Phase Linear 700 (also used) and added a pair of Advent speakers to the Heresy's Revox R to R w/ dolby. 
In 1968 my dad bought and Ariens snow blower. The deal was I could do as many driveways as I wanted as long as I did ours first. God knows how much I made. I spent every penny on records and Hi Fi. A financial wizard I am not. 
Kenwood KR-77 receiver (24 wpc), Garrard SL-95B with Pickering cart, Allied Bookshelf speakers -12 inch woofer, horn midrange, ? tweeter (comparable to Klipsch Forte). Sixteen years old and Hendrix was still making records. Gotta love it...
Radio Shack got me through Jr High. Then I graduated from delivering newspapers to delivering Big Macs. With $2.35/hr burning a hole in my pocket the extra money went into trips to Jafco to audition everything, which it came down to efficient JBL vs power hog Advents. Gradually as things went on sale got me through my first full system upgrade and off to college with JBL L26, Kenwood integrated, Pioneer TX-9100 tuner, patch cords, and some nice thick lamp cord. Right as I went off to WSU, or maybe freshman year I'm not sure, somewhere around in there I got a Technics SL-1700 semi-auto with Stanton 681EEE. Also a Pioneer RT whatever, forget the model, 10" RTR.

While at Puyallup High I built a Dynaco ST-400. But that beast was too heavy, took up too much precious dorm room space, and made power you didn't really need in a dorm room anyway, so it was Kenwood integrated all through college.

My roommate that freshman year had a Pioneer integrated, JBL L36, Pioneer belt drive table and a Sony 7" RTR deck. Dorm room doors tend to be open more often than not. Guys would be walking down the hall, glance in, see the decks and it would be like their neck was caught in a hook. Hilarious.
Many of us that served in the military during the Vietnam War, whoops-I'm sorry....conflict, bought Japanese electronics while in Southeast Asia.   A great number of Sansui and Kenwood units....pre cd so turntables and most of the Japanese speakers looked good but were not that great sonically.  So I stuck mainly with speakers from the U.S. or England.  To put it mildly, even as a youth, some of that early gear was great for helping add to an alcohol induced headache. 
pre cd so turntables and most of the Japanese speakers looked good but were not that great sonically.

Yeah, none of us really had any idea what great sound was until the CD came along and showed us all how its done.

First set up (in 1977) was fabulous Bose 301s + JVC receiver (including built-in graphic equalizer) + Onkyo direct drive (?) turntable. I paid cash, and it got the job done on my college student budget.
I started late besides a boombox I had in HS/college my first real system was a Bryston B-60 and Rega Planet embarrassingly driving, briefly, a pair of white van speakers. Yes I was one of those suckers! :)
Audiophilia. A disease tough to shake.
A little off topic. I worked for a summer in high school to get enough to buy a new 501 frame racing bike. I had it 2 days when trash from across the tracks stole it from the yard. I never took for granted how hard it is to save for something again. Now I protect what I have by exercising my Second Amendment rights!
Zenith with a suitcase design, speakers detached and the case opened up into a turntable...played the crap out of it. I still remember "Whole Lotta Love" blasting from it.
noromance -- you still bicycle? Several accidents and old age now limit my bicycling but I'm still as much a bicycle enthusiast as audiophile. Are Colnago and Campy as cool as Koetsu?
Dual 1215 TT with Stanton 681EEE cart;Dynaco 120 power amp & PAT-5 pre (home-built, of course);ADC floor standing speakers
Got me through college with decent sound, but I'd love to compare them to my current setup, and see how much has changed!
Large Advents played through A Marantz integrated amp and a Garrard Zero 100 turntable, which replaced my GE console, and purchased from the original Magnolia Hi Fi in Seattle when it was a small store in the Magnolia district and sold cameras and small appliances.
I also had one of those suitcase stereos by GE. Toke it apart and built a wood console to stuff it all together. Looked good! Than someone brought over the latest Beatles album Sgt Peppers. I thought something was wrong with the unit! Different sounds coming out of different speakers. Lovely sound.  Next day toke it all apart and built new speaker cases and a base for the turntable. Ordered a Heathkit FM only reciever. I haven't stopped messing with my  systems. It's a great hobby. 
My first system back in the 70s I had a Scott Vacuum tube integrated amp
Laffeyette tuner Technics directdrive turntable, Audio technica cartridge,Nachamichi 505 3 head cassette deck, Audioquest cabling, and Raw Klipsch Heresey speakers i hand stained and French waxed, back then 1inch thick  plywood cabinet.It took me months to save for all of these, the turntable I got 1st,the tuner was a birthday gift .great memories,to m6 friends this was high end ,and sounded dam good .
It’s funny thinking back,I have spent more then my house on Audio. 

1969, I was 14, had a part time job with a guy that delivered bleach and laundry supplies to houses, restaurants and hotels. I bought a Lloyds am/fm receiver with a built in cassette player at Kmart, I believe it set me back $79 and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It's been a labour of love ever since.
1964 Sears suit case with drop down turntable and 1 detachable speaker, came one xmas eve.  Put a record on for sleepy time. Turned the volume all the way down and that ceramic stylus was loud enough.  1968, Navy gave me a chance to visit building A33 in Yokosuka, bought a small Pioneer rcvr., Pioneer speakers, Dual 1019 with a Shure floating stylus(only made for one year, stylus easily broke) and Panasonic RTR.  Have yet to stop upgrading.
First car stereo in a 1975 Chevy Monza: Kraco am/fm 8-track with matching Kraco 6” speakers with the all-important “whizzer cones” for treble response.

1981: College, Sherwood S9600 CP receiver (still have it, works great!) Boston Acoustics A70 Speakers, NAD 5025 TT, Technics RM240X cassette deck. Still have the NAD 9300 cartridge, and still a very fine cartridge!
My first audio system that I could call my own consisted of a Marantz 2265B, Technics cassette player and Cerwin Vega speakers
I was living the dream!  Man those speakers were pretty hard on the ears
@edcyn Not much anymore. Work commute wastes 3 hours of my day. And distracted drivers in big SUVs make it risky. But I do love biking.
Early 70's,  Sherwood S8900A receiver, Dual TT, Shure cartridge, SAE electrostatic speakers.  Shortly thereafter moved up to a Mac C26 and Crown DC 300A amp. I couldn't afford the matching Mac 2105 amp. Still have the C26 and Crown in my office system.

Post removed 
18 watt Kenwood integrated and Sherwood speakers from Allied Radio in Chicago, pre Tandy. Fisher 50B tube tuner from Musicraft. Panasonic R2R on employee discount.
A friend's dad had AR 3a's and CSN sounded great there.
Ol' MaryJo cranked up the James Gang and I learned how low power blows speakers.
Next step Dynaco and SWTP kits.
My first actual stereo was in my 20s. Tandberg stack (3xxx something) of tuner pre amp and amplifier, Yamaha PX-2 turntable, Nakamichi ZX9 cassette deck, a 3bx(?) dynamic range expander and a pair of A/D/S L1530 speakers. Then life happened. Kids, a couple marriages, a late surprise child, a final divorce, and I was in my late 40s before I got to indulge myself a little. That indulgence is a Marantz PM7200, SA 8260, Music Hall mmf-5 SE, and a Bellari VP-129 phono stage. All feeding Paradigm Studio 60s (v.3). Not quite the monster my first stereo was, but my hearing isn't what it was then either. I enjoy the music it makes and that's matters most.
A Marantz integrated (had for many years), large Utah 3-way speakers (real wood boxes), and IIRC, a Garrard turntable.

I do remember an ‘all in one system’ I had prior, I believe even had an 8-track player, maybe a Fisher? Not sure, but that was just for a brief time.
JBL L100 speakers in the early seventies. They were way less expensive than the current JBL look-a-likes. I can't remember if they had the blue or orange grills. A Dual turntable, unknown model, plus a  Pioneer SA-9100(?) integrated amp received as a gift from the then sister-in-law.  And last, but not least and who knows why, a Sony reel-to reel tape deck in the pre-eight track and cassette era. You used to be able to purchase pre-recorded reel to reel albums. Wires were zip cord, what else? And I still have my Zerostat anti-static gun.

Even the fancy equipment at home now was never as much fun as blasting the Stones "Let It Bleed"out of my parents suitcase style stereo in 1969. And even that wasn't as fun as our previous 1950's style  small square suitcase style 45 rpm record player. We only had a couple 45's to play as kids, but they were good ones, Little Richard's "Tutti-Frutti" and Bill Haley and the Comets' "Rock Around the Clock". Later on we added Joey Dee and the Starlighters' "Peppermint Twist" and Chubby Checker's "Let's Do the Twist" to round out our collection.  

Mike
My first system was back in the late 70's:
Pioneer SX-780 Receiver
Sony PS X40 Turntable
Audio Technica cartridge (can't remember the model)
Visonik Speakers (They were bookshelf size but not their real small ones)
Been tempted a few times to buy a restored SX-780 just for sentimental reasons.
 @fuzztone - Allied Radio Superstore! On Western in Chicago. Musicraft! Weren't they on Oak street? Near north? Bought an Empire 698 turntable (demo) at their going-out-of-business sale.
I think someone bought the rights to "Allied Radio" name and will be selling equipment again.
Midnight Madness Sale! Woo-Hoo!
Hitachi receiver
Turntable- Pioneer?
Speakers-ARS?
Columbia Record Membership
Off to the races.
Oh yea discarded headphones from Spanish class.
It was all about the music until some vets turned me on to their silver behemoths. Then it was sound and the music. 
"Oh yea discarded headphones from Spanish class." 
Hilarious!

I bought my first real stereo system when I was 15 in 1969. I had been working in my uncles liquor store (under the table) doing bottle returns and stock for 2 years and saved every cent I got. I proudly came home with a 10wpc Sansui receiver, a BSR turntable with the cheapest Shure Magnetic Cartridge, a pair of Rectilinear bookshelf speakers and a Sony Cassette deck (pre Dolby). I believe I dropped around $500-600.00 that day. The speakers were used and everything else was brand new. I felt like I was sitting on top of the world.
It was circa '61, and I was 15.  I built an integrated tube amp from a kit: it was an Eico ST40.  Next came really crappy 12 inch speakers with wizzer cones, a Garrard table with a Pickering cartridge. A FM tuner and an Ampex tape deck soon joined the team.  I toiled in the lube room of a gas station in Pasadena Ca. to make all of this possible.  Looking back my first system wasn't much, but it lit a fire in me that still burns today.
Yes, I was at first pumping gas, repairing tires..etc.  Then I got a job at a high-end mens clothing store.  By the time of my senior year I was taking one 7:30 class, working full time, wearing great clothes and driving a one year old GTO...a great time that came to an end with my service in the Vietnam War.  However I survived and way too many, including my 1st cousin/friend did not.  Watching a B-52 crash with no survivers and being in situations of picking up dead bodies make a person grow up a bit too quickly.  My interest in music and stereo gear was part of the survivial.  Too many of my fellow service members got into drugs and some died......a very long time ago. 
The first recorded music I "owned" was Paperback Writer and Yesterday taped onto a C-30 cassette from the radio with In Germany Before the War on the other side.
1983, bought a stereo package at "The Brick" with AKAI turntable, cassette deck, and intergrated amp, plus Hitachi speakers including stand (old glass door type). 
My first stereo was a cheapie off-brand (electrovoice or something similar) that had the am/fm radio and record changer in one box and two little speakers with 4” drivers.  It sounded like you think it did.  When I was 16, my parents gifted me a Pioneer SX-626 receiver and in time I got a Garrard TT, Realistic Nova 7 speakers (to be replaced by Advent loudspeakers) and a Sony reel-to-reel tape deck.  It wasn’t too bad — the tape deck sounded better than records on the Garrard; I assumed the Pioneer had a better tape section than phono section.  There was a local college radio station back then that featured albums for recording — program called “Wax Museum” — that even provided a tone so you could set recording level, and that was a cool way to hear new music. 
14 yrs. old;  Dual 1229 TT, Shure V15 cart., Heathkit 50wpc integrated I soldered together, Coral speakers, lamp cord speaker wire in the middle of nowhere Wyoming.  First album Buddy Rich "Rich in London".  Could it be any weirder?
12 years old - Motorola record player with fold our speaker wings.  
16 years old - Setton turntable, Sherwood receiver, ADS speakers
McIntosh MR1700 receiver 
ADS 810 speakers 
Pioneer turntable 
Onkyo dual cassette deck
Generic cables