Although I don't really hang on news of D&Diana and whatnot, I did just happen to see that researcher Jon Peterson determined that, as nearly as can be determined, the actual anniversary of the release of D&D--the world's first role-playing game, happened forty years ago yesterday (for what it's worth, I myself turned 42 about a week and a half ago. Funny to think that the hobby is nearly as old as I am.
Of course, later, I got it. By about 1982 or so, I was playing a bit of the Moldvay B/X game, and even dabbled in AD&D. For the next three or four years, I continually dabbled in the wonders of D&D, and other games by TSR (it either didn't occur to me, or at least I didn't realize that there might be other companies doing other things.) Played a bit of Top Secret, and Star Frontiers, mostly, in addition to our D&D. By about the mid-80s, I had mostly wandered out of the hobby altogether; I wasn't really playing it anymore, and I certainly wasn't a paying consumer; I played with my friends and mostly used their books (and even their dice.) My parents weren't big fans--but not for the reason you might think. Their concern was largely that I'd be distracted and waste too much time in a hobbyist endeavor when I had more productive things I could be doing. What can you say? They were almost certainly right in that regard.
Through high school (and college) I was mostly out of the hobby, although I still paid attention to what was going on, at least to some degree, by flipping through stuff at the bookstore and the comic/games store (where I became aware of more games by other companies and stuff.) I also flirted with Warhammer and Warhammer 40k; based on doubt on the fact that I'd bought and painted a few Grenadier and later Ral Partha D&D minis back in the day, and had reasonably enjoyed that (today I have no interest in any miniatures combat game of any kind, except for a lingering love for Blood Bowl. Although I no longer have anyone I can play that with, except via the online game from Steam.) I finally got dragged back into the hobby in the later 90s by White Wolf. I found their concept of "storytelling", held up in stark contrast to hack-and-slash dungeoneering, to be right up my alley, and certainly a major part of my prior dissatisfaction with D&D in the first place. Of course, I later found White Wolf to be pretentious and hypocritical; since they are hardly rules-light or anti-hack and slash. Plus, their political and social moralizing got to be extremely tiresome after a while.
By the time 2000 came around, I was recently done with grad school, and working full time, and flush with enough disposible cash that buying into the release of 3e seemed like a good idea. I really enjoyed the flexibility of the system, and the fact that in spite of the "back to the dungeon" mantra, it easily supported the kinds of games that I wanted to play (which did not feature dungeons at all.) This state of affairs lasted for quite a long time, and I see 3e (or 3.5, to be specific, since I somewhat reluctantly made the switch to it.) d20 won me over with its elegant and consistent mechanical basis, its abundance of interesting character options to define my character, and its ability (proven conclusively, in my opinion, with the release of d20 Call of Cthulhu) to span multiple genres and styles of play reasonably successfully. I tired of many of the D&Disms in D&D before 2008--mostly--but I was still going strong with my embrace of d20 at least.
4e was part of what changed that for me. 4e and Pathfinder. Naturally, I was more interested in following Pathfinder than 4e, but Pathfinder went too far in turning up the complexity. By then, I was already struggling with a lot of issues with 3.5 as it was--high level play is terrible, I had to swap out most of the classes and the magic system with something else to get what I wanted, etc. I could still play some d20 + E6 and enjoy it, but more and more I'm thinking that it's not my ideal after all anyway.
But the siren song of D&D still calls. Given the recent anniversary, I'm tempted to propose to my gaming group that once we finish our current campaign (presuambly within the next few weeks) that we do a one-shot--or at least short-shot mini campaign, using the Moldvay rules. Which you can download as pdfs for really cheap from WotC these days. I think that'd be an appropriate celebration.