Interesting topic Henry.
I have fond memories of my early days with 35mm, starting with an Halina Paulette in early 1967, didn't have much cash to spend being in the lower rungs of the RN as an Aircraft Artificer 3rd class at that point (had a hook, killick, badge on one arm), which I managed to wear out in about 18 months. The first thing to go was the selenium light meter which I didn't really miss as I purchased a Weston Master V rather than paying for the Paulette's meter to be fixed. This light meter, bought in a shop in Arbroath Scotland, cost just over twice the price of the camera but was a very good investment which still had its uses when I had moved on to my first Minolta SRT101 in 1968. Indeed I still have this Weston Master.
That SRT101 purchased in UK through Wallace Heaton (of Blue Book renown) of London, cost an arm and a leg at about ukp £180 with a 57mm f1.7 Rokkor.
I first noticed the SRT101 as the Automobile Association (AA) in UK were giving some away in competitions in their 'Drive' magazine and I liked the look of it, particularly having a bayonet fit lens. Even then I was thing fast action on a carrier flight decks and rapid changes of lenses. Having researched through Amateur Photographer (when it provided very useful technical details and wasn't afraid to call a 'lemon' a 'lemon') and visited a few photography shops I decided that the SRT101 was worth sticking out for and shelved the idea of a cheaper Praktica. Nikon's were out of my price range. Pentax Spotmatic felt lightweight and had that screw lens mount and Canon had a disjointed product line with no clear accessory path.
Even Victor Blackman, then editor of AP went for the SRT101, but he declared that after I had already made my move, had plenty of good things to say about both the Rokkor lenses and the TTL metering system.
I stuck with SRT101 based photography (with several job changes, a few years at university as a mature with a wife and four and a mortgage couldn't afford to do otherwise) until buying a Dynax 7 when they arrived thinking digital SLRs had a bit to go on the specification-affordability continuum. Shame that the once effective Minolta gave under the weight of the Canon marketing machine (which seemed to dominate magazine front pages with endless competitions).
I still hanker for that twin double turret control arrangement of the Dynax 7 and 7D. Simple, positive, not accidentally adjusted and instantly and easily visible. Except in the dark with that latter perhaps as when taking something like this at Music in the Air, Middle Wallop, S. England September 2003, Minolta Dynax 7, Sigma 14mm EX f2.8, Fuji Velvia 50:
'Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.' - Benjamin Franklin