Before Mario Paint, Before Flash
Before I started creating Flash movies like the "Rise of the Mushroom Kingdom Series" and "Mario vs. Sonic" I was already creating smaller sprite animations long ago with another little toy.
Back in the late 80s we had this little gizmo called the The Animator, which used Etch A Sketch dials to draw digital pixels on a screen. (Ohio Art, the creator of the Etch a Sketch created it) You could animate those pixel drawings in a 12 frame animation. The limited frames of animation sucked horribly, but for me it was my first taste of the digital animation world.
Shortly after came the Animator 2000, which I first played at KB games and instantly fell in love with. This thing actually had a primitive touchscreen and sylus that allowed much more freedom over its predecessor. It also had a cartridge system with mediocre games I tried only once before realizing the animation was where this thing excelled.
After drawing on the demo a while, I pleaded with my Dad that this was my must have toy that Xmas. As Christmas was drawing near, I of course found it behind his dresser, and played with it when my parents weren't around. Then neatly packed it up and put it away. My Dad found out of course and beat my ass, but damn was it worth it to play that little gem.
The Animator 2000, along with Mario Paint for the SNES set the foundation for me getting into flash and creating the flash movies I make today.
I would love to find one in a flea market, maybe I'll look one up on ebay soon.