Ah, I actually don't remember. Maybe it was 1999 or perhaps 2000.
Anyway, I didn't really start coding in perl right away. I had one of Matt Wright's script - formmail.pl - and got it to work with some minor changes, mainly configuration changes.
But I wasn't confident I could handle perl. I looked at some parts of the script and said to myself - I don't think I'll ever know what that is doing! Btw, programming was the last thing I would dream of doing, because I never had any formal education in it.
I then got acquinated with more free scripts from the Net and started playing with them. I guess that sort of started my journey...
It was a small step here and a small step there. I started with small scripts to parse text files. When these worked, my confidence grew. Sure the code sucks but it works :)
I've read the 3rd Edition of Perl Programming probably 5-7 times. I never really finished the book - I think I stopped somewhere in the middle. Each time I read, certain concepts that seemed hard to grasp at first became clearer so the reading also became more enjoyable...
Then I discovered perlmonks. This place makes all the difference to my perl experience. I learned new and better ways of doing things over the years. Gradually, I grew more comfortable with perl and what appeared impossible to do at the beginning now becomes doable :)
Great thanks to all who make this community possible and of course, zillion thanks to perl's creator Larry Wall and all who gave life to perl.