My somewhat accurate timeline... though I wrote it in August of 1998.
pre 1997.06
I watch quotes every so often... interesting stuff but have no money so not much I can do in the market.
Friends with jobs and $$ raise my interest in the market with stories of making a killing (and getting killed) playing with options. I start to follow the market more and more.
I open my first brokerage account with, well, let's just say pocket change. I use Discover Brokerage because they have some nice rules on minimum account balances. My account isn't enough to be allowed to play with options or even daytrade. I shortly thereafter follow, for some reason, advice from some stock picking place. Company looked good... BTGC. Made a slight bit on that trade.
1998.01 - 1998.04
I start following #daytraders and proceed to lose money cause I'm not fast enough and have no clue. News plays have some serious potential... but you need to be fast in and out. Greed is bad bad bad.
I switched to Web Street Securities because of cheap L2 and a more reliable net connection at the time.
I catch a reference to Zeus Trading and give the free trial a try. After following it a while I'm amazed at the power of TA and short term trading. I was mostly paper trading, but potential looked great.
I keep watching #daytraders for entertainment. 700 users who don't know what they are doing. Need to jump in fast, post news, then get out after a #dt influenced pop for most news... sad but true. Me and my broker arn't fast enough for these news plays. Too many losses and I give it up.
Zeus starts a support IRC room. The to-be #teamzeus.