As a child, I've always been interested in science, particularly chemistry and physics. I loved the easy explanations of fabrication processes and how things work that appeared regularly in the Sendung mit der Maus television program, but I've also watched with keen interest distance learning courses in television that were geared towards grown-ups. I didn't understand a word when the instructor talked about differential algebra or exotherm reactions, but I love the language, signs and experiments. Fortunately, there were many excellent programs explaining science (Welt der Wissenschaft) and presenting science as entertainment (Die Knoff-Hoff Show, Kopf um Kopf).
My parents gave me their encyclopedia Wie funktioniert das (How stuff works), published in 1963. The left page was filled with dense text, and each right page contained simple, two-color illustrations, a far cry from the glossy pages and multimedia presentations that are available today. But I loved these plain illustrations, and devoured its contents even before I went to school (again, probably not understanding much, but something inside of my brain must have registered).
When I entered primary school, I wanted to become a toxicologist (I called it Giftexperte (poison expert) when asked), and I already knew where it was possible to study that. In school, I naturally loved the applied science subjects: mathematics, chemistry, physics, computer science (well, hardly any of CS was offered back then), and I kind of endured the other subjects, getting through them "efficiently" (i.e. doing just enough to pass respectably).
My father brought me some old issues of Bild der Wissenschaft, a German science magazine, that were lying around in the school's teacher's room (again, I was too young to fully understand the texts, but really liked the ones about chemistry and nuclear fusion). I later even subscribed to the Spektrum der Wissenschaft magazine, the German branch of the Scientific American.
In high-school, I still mostly stuck to my plan to study chemistry; however, I had started to use computers (first my home computer, then my PC) to help with my homework, and had become a computer nerd.
Ingo Karkat, 13-Apr-2009