Welcome to Growing Up Geek, a feature where we take a look back at our youth, and tell stories of growing up to be the nerds that we are. This week, we have our very own Mark Hearn!

Growing Up Geek Mark Hearn

I can vividly recall the first gadget that I ever owned. It was 1986 and I was re-gifted my brother's old Atari 2600. While the cool kids were making Mario run, jump and shoot, I was mastering future classics, such as Mouse Trap and Megamania. A year later my parents bought me a NES for my birthday and it was on like Donkey Kong! I didn't know it then, but the practice of plucking away at 8-bit classics would be the foundation for my love of gizmos and gadgets.

After a few years of heavy use and abuse, my NES eventually broke down and cried "no más!" Desperate, I "borrowed" some of my dad's tools and managed to take the system apart. Aside from removing an unhealthy amount of dust, I simply disassembled and reassembled the console and guess what? It worked! Amazed by my success, I quickly developed an obsession with taking things apart. By age ten I was repairing failing Sega Genesis systems for other kids in my neighborhood.

Growing up on a limited household income, I lived vicariously through friends and family members who owned computers. This led to me spending most of my teenage years at the library fighting to get access to the internet. Eventually I met up with other kids who shared similar interests and picked up some of the basics in building and repairing PCs.

Growing Up Geek Mark Hearn

Once I was old enough to earn a legitimate paycheck, I built my very first PC, which I still have to this very day. Finally having consistent access to the internet, I found myself glued to forums and message boards related to consumer technology and do-it-yourself projects. My constant urge to run my mouth and share my opinion about tech with anyone who would listen resulted in me becoming the resident "gadget guy" in my inner circle.

After a run of deplorable customer service and IT gigs, I found myself out of work and looking for a job. To pass the time while looking for work, I came up with the idea of starting my own blog focused on tech and gaming. By a stroke of divine favor, I managed to get myself into E3. Once I got over the initial shock of being on a packed showroom floor for one of the biggest industry trade shows with an all-access press badge, I was immediately hooked. I knew right then and there that I had to be a part of this industry and going back to the office environment (a place I fondly refer to as "Cubical Hell") just wouldn't do.

Growing Up Geek Mark Hearn

Once again blessed by the tech blog gods, I managed to get in touch with Engadget founder Peter Rojas, who gave me the advice of finding my own niche. A few weeks later I launched a Sprint-centric website by the name of SprintFeed and things really started to take off. While running my own blog, I freelanced here and there and eventually ended up working for other publications. However, when the opportunity to join the Engadget team came along, I couldn't say no.

I am extremely grateful to be here and have the opportunity to earn a living doing something that I truly love. The road here has been filled with amazing twists and turns and I can't wait to see what the future holds.