I was doing so good at lurking, but this thread is too good to pass up.
A friend took me to a hardware store, where I bought my first kit. It was March, 1978, and the kit consisted of one 3.3 pound can of Blue Ribbon Hopped Light Malt Extract. A packet of "Beer Yeast" was taped to the top of the can, and two pages of instructions were taped to the side. You had to supply 2 1/2 pounds of Domino sugar on your own.
It was the best beer I had ever made, up 'til then. But I knew I could do better.
My second brew (April, '78) was an Imperial Stout! (Like the one I had drunk in England. Still remember the hangover.) Three cans of Blue Ribbon Hopped Dark Malt Extract, one packet of "Beer Yeast", and no extra sugar needed.
Now, that was some five or six years before Charlie's book came out. You had to be resourceful in those days to learn how to brew better beer. My brews have improved a bit over the years, and my current brewery (Turkish Rock) takes up half of the garage AND half of the basement. This weekend I'm teaching a dozen or so members of the local club (UNYHA) how to brew a lambic.