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My Best Tech Gift Ever: Meeting James 'Scotty' Doohan

What's even better than a Magnavox HeadStart 500 with a CD-ROM drive? For CNET's Jeff Sparkman, it's getting the chance to meet a geek icon.

You might not know it from his expression, but CNET copy editor Jeff Sparkman got the thrill of a young geek's life in 1987 when his dad, Frank, took him to meet actor James Doohan. That's Jeff's brother, Josh, in Doohan's lap. Jeff Sparkman/CNET
Every day this week, a different CNET writer or editor will recall a tech or geek-centric present that left a mark. Read yesterday's story by Crave contributor Eric Mack here, and look for another installment tomorrow at midnight PT.

It was hard picking the greatest tech gift I ever got -- we got a lot of tech as gifts for the whole family. Should I pick the Atari 2600 or the Sega Genesis? Should I pick the Texas Instruments TI99/4A, the Commodore 128, or the Magnavox HeadStart 500 (the first computer we owned with a CD-ROM drive)? I was almost tempted to pick the Coleco Adam we got one year because it was the first system to teach me about backing up my documents. Heck, my parents just got me a Nexus 7 tablet for my birthday, and that's pretty spiffy, too.

But since I can't decide, here's my pick for best tech (well, geek) gift: the day my parents took me to our local video store not just to buy "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" on VHS (yes, I'm that old), but to get it autographed by James "Scotty" Doohan himself. This was right in the middle of my full-on "Star Trek" geekdom.

What's the best tech gift you ever got? Send your stories and photos to crave at cnet dot com (subject line: Best Tech Gift) for possible inclusion in an upcoming feature.

I also brought my copy of "Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise," a kind of faux technical manual, to get signed. I mean, I knew he was an actor, but in so many ways, he was also the embodiment of future tech to me. Being able to look up things on a computer just by talking to it, instant personal communication, and interstellar travel -- all that stuff held my interest much more than sports, cars, or any semblance of a social life.

When I met Scotty (he insisted I call him that), it was the first time I thought I could have a career in the tech field. Granted, I'm a copy editor, so I'm more concerned with the spelling of dilithium than trying to recrystallize it, but I'm here.

Find a memorable gift for the people in your life by visiting CNET's 2012 Holiday Gift Guide.