Thinking back...

The early 90’s is when i first got into 3d modeling and visualization. I was in school, just experimenting with what was available to me. At the time I used a program that operated by entering coordinates to achieve a primitive but solid rendition of masses. Boolean addition and subtraction were used to work out details, and as i recall there may have been shadow capabilities. I just can’t remember the name of the software, but i recall being impressed by it (Alias? Viz? something else?)  I remember using Aldus Pagemaker 6, Autocad R12, and Photoshop 4.0, saving things onto ZIP Disk and floppy.I also remember lens flares being pretty big at the time. It seemed like there was a lens flare in almost every Photoshop’d image-- regardless of the apparent lighting conditions-- and I thought it was really cool. It seemed to me that if you wanted something to look like it was real, you should add to it things from real life and at that time flares seemed to fit the bill. Later it was heavy chromatic aberration, overdone lens vignetting, and often poorly structured grain. My latest guilty pleasure is showing the film strip of a photo. Is anyone really buying this? 
Around the late 90s I was “changed" when I saw a book by Kent Larson called Louis I. Kahn : Unbuilt Masterworks. I couldn’t believe I was looking at CG. I wanted the power to build architecture, cities, worlds with my keyboard and mouse. I had been fascinated by the possibilities after seeing Lawnmower Man, but this was different. I had been fooled into believing I was looking at photos of actual architecture! In a small way for me the images of architecture became the end goal. I wasn’t confused about the imagery being the architecture; I just really liked the part of the process that revolved around visualizing them as complete.
When @Last changed archviz history with SketchUp, I was just learning 3d Studio Viz. But SketchUp was so much easier! I reasoned that I could now model everything in SU and just bring it into Viz for lighting and texturing. I was hooked. And how I loved SketchUp’s styles- extended lines that belied the the true nature of the computer model. I ended up bringing .max files into SketchUp just to get that special hand drafted look. This was a step closer to (or further from) my grand idea of a plotter that used graphite pencils to make CAD output look more hand-drawn. 
A friend and I got a job to model a large site with hundreds of trees. We didn’t know how we could make it work so we did some searching and found a company called Itoo Software that made a plugin called Forest. We bought it for $150 and it saved the project (notwithstanding my botching everything with my partner and destroying any future collaborations- i was young and stupid). I was disappointed when shortly after purchasing it Itoo updated the plugin for a newer version of 3d Studio Viz but charged full price for it. Welcome to the world of software- they have to make a living too I guess. 
I kept coming back to Photoshop though. Some of my first visualizations in school and later in an office were just photos of physical models that I would Photoshop over. Of course back then we had to wait for the film to be processed and then scan the prints. I would usually grab people out of the office and photograph them mingling about so I could later paste them into my final image. If you look closely you can see the fuzz of the museum board is still visible.
A myriad other experiences rest at the foundations of what I do today. Each is valuable as a lesson; each influences my view of my world. Arch viz keeps changing, but for me the basis of it remains the same; to tell a story. 

 Physical model and some colleagues photographed and scanned for this early composite of a the 57th Street pedestrian underpass design in Chicago, Illinois circa 2001

Physical model and some colleagues photographed and scanned for this early composite of a the 57th Street pedestrian underpass design in Chicago, Illinois circa 2001