It seems this is a thing going on, so I'll jump on board.
I was exposed to RPGs for awhile before I played my first game. My older brother had run the game once (I think), but I was still very young and so the bratty little brother wasn't invited. I don't think he kept playing and later I got a hold of the Moldvay Basic Rulebook, and the AD&D (1st ed) Players Handbook. Even before I could read I flipped through these books. I instantly got that it was a game about playing wizards and warriors and fighting monsters and magic and treasures. I was hooked even before I every got to play.
Unfortunately those books eventually became lost and took a back seat in my memory.
On my 11th birthday I got an NES, the next few years I played many "action adventure" and "rpg" video games. I loved Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, Shadowgate, but the original Legend of Zelda really struck a cord with me. The exploring of dungeons, gaining new items, and solving puzzles reminded me a lot of the pictures I saw in those old D&D books.
My First RPG
It wasn't until Junior High, that I finally got a chance to play the game that had in my childhood filled my head with vivid images of heroes and treasure. A friend invited me to play D&D, after asking me if I knew what the game was. I said I sort of knew the game and had always wanted to play.
We met at his house and I rolled up my first character. We played using the D&D Rules Cyclopidea. I wanted to play "someone with magic and a sword" so I rolled up an Elf (from the get-go I didn't like "class restrictions"). I don't recall all the details, but I remember the DM setting down one of the six-sided dice on the "6" side, having me only roll 2d6 in order to get better than average stats. Even with what little I knew, I realized that he was tweaking the rules to make sure my character wasn't weak.
I think we were staring above level 1 (or maybe my character was just allowed to start at the other PC's level). I was allowed a couple of magic items, and I asked for a "ring of invisibility!", but instead got some elven boots and elven cloak (which I was assured was almost as good). I also got to pick some skills (it that is what they were called). I remember picking up ventriloquism, and a few others (including lip reading). Then we were off on adventure.
We were traveling up the road (not sure if we had a destination or not), and saw some smoke rising. I told the others that with my elven gear, and lip reading, I could do a bit of recon. I got off the road and approached the smoke to find a bonfire of furniture being thrown out of a cabin. There was a dead man, a woman tied up, and a couple of bandits ransacking the cabin.
I quickly returned to the others and told them what I had seen. Then suggested that I return and use my ventriloquism to throw my voice and convince the bandits that the ghost of the dead man had returned. I goal was to scare them off so that we could rescue the woman.
The plan went round and round for awhile. The other players were unsure if we needed to worry and maybe it would just be better to charge in. Our debate took up most of the rest of the time I had (the others could stay later than I could). So eventually we did charge in, but I had to leave after that.
After this I went out and bought my own copy of the Baisc Game, then the Rules Cyclopedia. Later I would pick up Marvel Superheroes RPG, Cyberpunk 2020, and several others before eventually finding GURPS (Basic Set 3rd edition revised.)
For a long time D&D was an almost mythic thing for me. It was strange and mysterious and something that was for a time unattainable. Once I got the chance to play, I loved it but could tell right away that I wanted more. I had gotten use to the restrictions in video games, and so wanted no restrictions in a table top game. Once I learned about classless systems, I was drawn towards them.
Still, D&D was my first (table top) RPG and will always hold a bit of that "magical" something that I first gleamed when flipping through the strange books for that game that I was "too young" to play.