Excellent article. I've been a SQL Server DBA for over a decade, but I came at it from being a database developer in the early 80's in dBase III (before it was +), FoxPro, and Wang PACE. PACE was nice as it had a true data dictionary with DRI and a good character-based form and report generator. I only did it once, but you could also write Cobol programs to bang against it (this was late 80's). It really was quite a good system. (I won't bothering mentioning DataFlex, perhaps some day the nightmares will fade...
When SQL Server came along, we bought in at the 4.21a level and I began being both a developer and DBA. I've continued as a DBA and database developer, and now it looks like I'll be getting back into limited front end development as I'll be taking a VB course this semester: all of our developers are mainframers and are going through retraining and I told my boss that I must take the course as they'll be coming to me with problems and I won't be able to answer them.
I've loved doing database development for a long time, I've always had a good mindset for naturally working with relational concepts. And I heartily endorse the point on developing databases on your own. Heck, the Developer Edition of 2005 is only $50 and gets you the full Enterprise kit! How can you go wrong with that? You can even use Access for experience in table and relationship development, and if you've got MSDB installed, you can also play with pass-through queries and linked tables and have all sorts of fun!
Quite looking forward to Part 2.
-----Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves or we know where we can find information upon it. --Samuel Johnson