From kindergarten through 12th grade, and then from undergraduate through graduate school, not once did I ever sit back and think, "I'd like to become a trader." In fact, not only did it never enter my mind, I'm not sure I could even identify it as a profession. Which prompts the question, of course,

how did I get here?

I'd like to say it was some sort of amazing journey, but it wasn't. Like most people, I just evolved into it. The beginning was fairly straightforward. When I got married many years ago, I had almost no money saved up. My wife did, however, with about $25,000 invested in an assortment of stocks. Mostly dogs, as I recall, which were doing nothing.

Coincidentally, I was spending a lot of time working on behalf of

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

with customers like

Food Lion

,

Wal-Mart

(WMT) - Get Report

and

Albertsons

(ABS)

, and I figured I could surely make more money investing in those companies than I could with Nancy's "pots and pans" portfolio.

Of course, this was the mid-'80s, so I'm not sure if it was a matter of good stocks or good timing. No matter, as the money I made in both Food Lion -- a go-go stock at the time -- and Wal-Mart convinced me I could make a decent buck in the market.

Note, though, that I was primarily a fundamental investor. I had read Peter Lynch's

One Up on Wall Street

, and I still recall reciting Warren Buffett's words back to my broker when I told him my holding period for Wal-Mart was forever. I figured I might as well copy the best.

Of course, few have done well in the market copying someone else (as so many Warren Buffett wannabees have discovered), and after seeing a sharp drawdown in my Wal-Mart position, I noticed that if I had sold when the stock closed below its 50-day moving average, my return would have been much higher than what I actually netted.

That one observation planted the seed for further investigation, and I specifically sought out William O'Neil's

How to Make Money in Stocks

, which became my bible for quite a while.

O'Neill, though, likes to mix fundamentals with technicals, and while that approach has many admirers, I figured just a raw TA-only angle could yield results just as good, with a lot less work. That thinking is pretty much where I am today, although I discovered a variety of nuances along the way that helped shape my current approach. More on that approach and my trading philosophy tomorrow.

Today, the

Nasdaq Composite

,

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

,

Power Integrations

(POWI) - Get Report

,

Silicon Laboratories

(SLAB) - Get Report

,

Gold Fields Ltd.

(GFI) - Get Report

, and

Apple Computer

(AAPL) - Get Report

.

Charts produced by TC2000, which is a registered trademark of

Worden Brothers Inc.

And that is the final word from Yankee Stadium, where I'll admit this is just about the time of year I start tuning into baseball. Can't do better, though, than kicking off my season with the Yanks taking the BoSox in five! And don't forget -- now is a great time to learn how to make bigger, faster profits with technical analysis and charting. Get a free trial of my newsletter,

The Chartman's Top Stocks, and follow along with me.

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Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks.

Smith writes a daily technical analysis column for RealMoney.com and also produces a daily premium product for TheStreet.com called The Chartman's Top Stocks --

click here for a free two-week trial. While Gary cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send your feedback to

gsmith@thestreet.com.