I'm a middle-aged guy who got into gaming in the mid-70s, when my dad would play arcade games with me at the pizza parlor. My first system was a Coleco Telstar Arcade. In 1980, my parents bought me an Atari Video Computer System for Christmas. That was my "Red Ryder BB Gun" Christmas. I was so ecstatic to have that awesome system, and I played it for hours every day.
In 1982, my parents bought me the Colecovision with the 2600 adapter so I could keep my old games and still play the new stuff. I liked a few of the launch titles, but before anything else could come out for it, the 5200 hit the market and being a neophile I had to have it! So I sold the Coleco stuff and bought that. It was another great system, and I loved Star Raiders, but I soon started longing for the ability to make my own games.
Within a month or so, I returned the 5200 and the games (yes, the games were returnable at that time!) and got an Atari 400, a 410 recorder, "The Programmer," and "The Entertainer." I dove into BASIC but quickly ran out of memory for my programs on the 400. So for Christmas 1983 my parents bought me a 1200XL and a 1050 disk drive. (I think Atari dropped the 1200XL from its product lineup the very next day. But I still love that computer more than any other.)
Within a couple of years, I got my first job and started buying my own computer and video game systems, and stopped leeching off my parents so much.
First I bought an Apple //c, and very much enjoyed programming it as well as playing the games for it that didn't seem to come out for the Atari (such as Wizardry). Then came the NES, with Mario and Zelda and Nobunaga's Ambition and a few other nice games. A couple of years later, I first bought a Turbografx-16 as soon as they appeared in stores, and then a Sega Genesis as soon as they popped up. I think I'm the only person in the world who actually paid full price for and enjoyed Budokan for the Genesis.
I also got into collecting old systems at this time (1990-1992), and was able to find a tremendous amount of good old Atari 2600, 5200, and other classic system stuff at flea markets and garage sales (as well as some Silicon Valley surplus shops). I built up quite a collection, everything from Pong to Channel F to TI 99/4a and beyond.
In 1992, I graduated from college and moved from my native California to Illinois. I got rid of a bunch of my systems before moving, but kept all the stuff I actually remembered from my childhood. I bought an SNES and a Jaguar when they came out, and as a result spent less time with the classic consoles. A friend gave me an old TG-16 and games around 1994 or 1995. A few years later, when it was time to buy a house, I sold everything but the Atari 8-bit stuff, the Jaguar, the TG-16, and the SNES through a UseNET newsgroup.
Although I continued playing games on the Atari 8-bit computer, it wasn't until 2006 that I got back into the classic scene when I bought an Intellivision. It was one of the few systems I'd never owned (although I had swapped my 2600 and games for an Intellivision and games with a pal back in the 7th grade -- just for the summer). I really wanted to play some of the great games I remembered, such as AD&D and Utopia. So I bought a console and started trolling eBay looking for games. Of course I bought them all complete in box, since the overlays are often useful and the instructions are often necessary to understanding the more complicated Intellivision games.
That Intellivision led to re-acquiring a 2600. And that led to getting an NES to go with our SNES. I bought a 19" NTSC LCD TV to hook them all to (via switchboxes), and set up a nice desk where I could have all my systems connected at once. I converted a closet into a nice place to store the boxed games. And for a couple of years, that was fine.
In 2009, I decided to add the Genesis, 5200, and 7800. That led to setting up a second area for gaming, and putting an older 15" NTSC LCD TV into service. It also prompted me to reorganize the closet again, and acquire more shelves to hold all the games.
In 2010, I added the ColecoVision, a game system I remember fondly but which I never got to use very much the first time around since I dropped it so quickly for the 5200. This time around, I'm just thrilled with it! What a great system! So many great games and accessories...
In 2011, I bought my wife a Vectrex (along with some games for it), since she'd expressed some interest in that system and had been intrigued with its uniqueness. I also bought us an N64 (she's always enjoyed the Zelda and Mario games on that one, and we both enjoy Mario Kart on it). Finally, I bought an Odyssey2 for myself.
These days, I play classic games daily, mostly in the fall and winter (spring and summer are for visiting the local theme park). I really get a lot of enjoyment out of all the games, and out of having them readily available to play. Fortunately for me, my wife is also a gamer, and we can be found wiling away many an hour playing games together.