This was pre-Revelations so I didn't start with ~800K skill points and the ability to fly a Merlin, oh no. Back before Revelations was released in late November '06 you started with 5000 ISK, and Ibis, and a tiny amount of skill points. Let the dev blog from that time describe it:
Until now, people have been able to create over 1.400 possible character combinations. Thereof, 126 characters yielded under 6000 SP, but a player who got lucky (or knew the game enough to know what to pick) could get over 303.000 with one of the combinations. Furthermore, hundreds of combinations resulted in less than 20.000 SP, while only about 20 resulted above 275.000 SP.Yeah, I think I started with around 50,000 but I can't be sure. I had zilch for combat skills though, I had to buy weapon and Caldari Frigate skill books.
Running missions in an Ibis rookie ship was painful, but I managed. The tutorial was not short but it was all about basic operation of the ship and GUI; there was no help pages like there is now for every window you open and no rookie missions besides one to get you started with ISK and skill books.
Nor was there certificates to guide you on the best skills and weapons for ship types hence why I trained Small Energy Turret before Small Hybrid Turret or Standard missiles. As a Caldari character this is the height of foolishness but I didn't know and the game didn't tell me. I found out soon enough once I got into the New Citizens forum.
My first Caldari frigate I bought was the Heron and I used it for combat missions. I thought I was hot shit with my 75mm railgun and Standard Missile Launcher I. Of course flying a Heron frigate in missions is like take a research boat into combat against Somali pirates. A few level one missions later it was gone, along with the second and third Herons (Worlds Collide Level I in a Heron is not a good idea).
Note: its worth mentioning that back then the starter mission agent often sent you on missions into or through Jita and lag was a severe problem back then in that hole of a system. A few patches later and the jump from Kisigo to Jita was removed to alleviate that problem but until then the first thing a lot of new Caldari pilots noticed was the horrible lag in Jita space.
I just about quit at that point but fortunately I had friends that put me on the back on the good path with the Merlin (TWO missiles AND TWO railguns!?! *swoons*) and I never looked back.