people seem to forget how hard it was to get software before the internet, especially if you were a kid with no money
I agree, and this goes double for hardware. I grew up with minimal access to computers at home or school. When I stayed with relatives over holidays, I'd spend every possible minute on their computer, but then most of the year I had no access to any computer, let alone any manuals or software. I contented myself with books from the local library, but in 1984 (when I was 13) there wasn't much available. I learned 8080 architecture and machine language, and ANSI C, by reading about them in books, but I didn't have any hardware to try them out on. I would have gotten a lot further, faster, if I'd had the kind of ubiquitous computing hardware, software and documentation that kids have today!