I didn't really start in the dark ages as many other respondents did, more like the middle ages. I began in 1999 with a start-up set of equipment (w/ CP's Complete Joy) and an extract kit (EDME Red Ale) my brother sent my way. Fortunately for me there was (and still is) a local HB shop that allowed me to easily continue. Since then the most significant things that have changed on the scene (for me) are (1) the overall evolution of the craft in terms of information (primarily) and ingredients (secondarily) and (2) the availability of Iodophor and Star San (no more Chlorox in the brewhouse!). I know that Palmer's Book (with good reason) is the most often recommended book for beginners on here, but I must give props to CP's Joy; it really was the first modern homebrewing book (IMHO).