I started playing about three months before TBC expansion, I was playing games like Warcraft/Starcraft and saw the advertisements on the old battle net for World of Warcraft.. WoW was an escape for me back then - It had some positive effects on my life and some negative..
Played from about 3 months into vanilla, all the way until WOTLK dropped. I stopped playing pretty much as soon as WOTLK came out and then about 3/4 of the way through WOTLK I leveled one or two characters to 80. Completely stopped after that.
Now I am just mucking around on a home server getting baller gear and having a look at Cata's change of the world. I am thinking of going back into Vanilla/TBC and mincing the dungeons on god mode for fun to get a bit of a nostalgia kick.
I played about 6 months from initial release of vanilla. I was young but loved going mining on my level 10 human warrior or pick pocketing my way to 1 gold before leaving the mountains of the dwarven area.