|My first was a C16 (the first model which looked like the C64), with which I spent my time playing games with my brother (at the time they sold "legit" pirated games compilations in the stores), and when I was alone, trying to learn programming, which I found so fascinating.
When I finally got into the best part of it (POKE'n'PEEKs), it broke and we were never able to repair it because it went out of production since too much time.
So my next dream was the Amiga, so much that I actually spent all my (very little) money on a magazine which teached Assembly, which I started learning without having the computer.
When I finally got the Amiga, in 1995 (it was the first batch produced by the new owners, ESCOM, after Commodore went bankrupt), I didn't have an assembler, so I used my time to learn the OS and what it had already: AmigaDOS (that is so good that it can be considered a programming language, there's even a racing game made in ASCII available on Aminet) and ARexx (an amazing feature that still today is nowhere to be seen in any other OS, at least in a similar form).
I then learned other languages as soon as I could get my hands on their compilers (yes, Assembly too at a certain point, finally...).
What was so great is really what you already described, probably, the way you could "touch" the hardware and "speak" to it directly, to make something that it was not made for, for example, or just to get that extra performance/feature that the language didn't have (in the case of using a C compiler on the Amiga, for example, you could add some ASM to access HW directly in a part of your time-critical routines to do things actually easier, and much faster, than you would by doing it with C itself).
It was the absence of this forceful abstraction that is, legitimately, present today in every system (even in consoles), which really meant freedom, and on the Amiga, it was done without giving up multi-tasking (though you had to disable it momentarily if you went too deep in the HW, but it was made for that).
It was a time of discovery for all our young minds, and to master the machine.
I believe today's kids might have a similar inner experience but in the end, it's always the machine which masters the man, which forces the way, while at that time, you were the one which chose the way.
It was also something relatively new and not so common, which added to the mystery, while today it's quite a normal thing to have at least one computer in the house (smartphones included).
It's taken for granted, and because of the advancements in technology, it would be weird to use them in the same way as back then, so yeah I'm being a bit nostalgic, but also I'm realistic enough to know that it's something needed.
Of course there were also some very bad things about that, like "crash and you'll lose everything", or the incredibly slow I/O devices (I only had tape on the C16...).
You couldn't just copy/paste a source, you had to type it, which usually involved some pretty bad keyboards, too.
If you wanted to make a good game you HAD to use Assembly, so that also meant countless hours typing, debugging without an actual debugger, make graphics and sounds without the nice tools you have today and so on.
I think it was all worth it though, in end, and it all made you better, but yeah, I'm not nostalgic for THAT part. Oh and of course I'm only talking about pre-OS machines here, as on the Amiga/PC you had pretty much everything you didn't have in those older computers.
My A1200 is sitting next to my pc, and I sometimes update/modify its HW when I have time and will.
Years ago I bought an Ethernet card so it's also connected to our home network, and I can surf the web/chat/email/whetever