When I got my first computer, I was a sophomore in highschool. My parents bought me a Compaq 486, and it ran Windows 3.1. It was a nifty little machine that lasted me through thick and thin, through Windows 95 and through quite a bit of Tech. But one of the first things I ever used it for was drawing.
See, I was a drawing geek from the time I was very small, always sketching something. I'm still a danger to myself and others in art supply stores, but I'm sad to say that otherwise, my art career never really took off. I retained enough skill that I can do a pretty decent Photoshop, and I'm a pretty mean Pictionary teammate... other than that, I'm a novice with the pencil.
Windows 3.1 used Windows Paintbrush, a program I still have saved somewhere because it's light, small, does what you tell it to, and has a few nifty little features I've just never found in any of the top-heavy graphics software you commonly find nowadays. I used to spend hours drawing pictures on it. I'd create sketches in black outline and color them in when I was finished, all very primitive. And I spent hours upon hours going through my little works of art and smoothing them over, correcting small details. In Paintbrush, there's only one zoom: WAY in. Down to the level where you see individual pixels. I'd zoom in, smooth out my line of pixels, move to the side, smooth more, move down, smooth more, etc. More than once I stayed up all night doing this kind of work. I still have some of those drawings.
And frankly, all the time that I was doing this, I was genuinely convinced that it was a complete and total waste of time except for the personal satisfaction I derived from a drawing well done.
It's only now, after years of doing spot corrections for graphics in documentation, that I realize what an incredibly useful skillset I was building.
Tonight I'm mapping images of leaves to polygons in OpenGL. The resemblance to pixel smoothing in Paintbrush is really quite uncanny.