NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I have been trading stocks since I was 13 years old, in 1968.
The first trade was memorable. I bought $200, 10 shares, in a computer timesharing company called Datamation Services. For me, it was a very big deal.
I did it through a broker, using a custodial account, and when it got to $80/share, I said sell. Unfortunately it was a custodial account -- the broker told my parents not to sell. They didn't, and the company soon disappeared, taking my $200 with it.
I kept the certificate as a souvenir, alongside a 1921 Irish bond from my great-aunt, hand-signed by Eamonn DeValera himself. As she was fond of saying, after a few drinks, "up the rebels."
Since then I have had a great fondness for discount brokers, the kind that let me do my own thinking and initiate my own trades.
I haven't always been right, of course.
For one thing, I've managed to lose a lot of money on what's now
(AAPL - Get Report)
. I bought into it in the 1990s, while it was wobbling from one CEO to another. Soon after Steve Jobs returned, I got tired of waiting for gains and cashed in my chips, which is one reason I still work for a living.
I took another flyer on Apple last year, and naturally my timing was impeccable. I'm out about $5,000 so far. I'm certain that all Tim Cook's problems would be quickly solved if I just sold my stake. When I do, I'll let you know.
I can laugh about Apple because, by and large, my investing is profitable. I call broker
Charles Schwab & Co.
(SCHW - Get Report)
my "bookie," and when I decide to buy something, tell friends I'm placing a "bet" with "Charlie." He takes a very modest "vig," under $10, even when I'm betting thousands, and I never have to wait for my winnings -- the teller window is always open.
My best trade ever is probably
(INTC - Get Report)
, which I picked up around the time I bought my first Apple shares. Intel doubled, split, and so I sold 100, my original stake. It doubled again, split again, and I sold 100. By the end of the decade, I had thousands of dollars in profits and 600 shares.