I don't remember anything about the knives I used in the very early days of cooking for myself.
It must have been whatever happened to be in the kitchen of the campus house I lived in with five other girls during my junior year of college. Later, it was probably a knife from a knife set given to me as a wedding present.
I don't remember those knives because cooking wasn't something I was invested in yet. It was something I did, when I needed to, with what I had on hand. (I probably made things harder on myself in some cases because I wasn't using the right tools for the job, but oh well.)
I may not remember any of those knives, but I distinctly remember my first chef's knife.
I wanted a good knife. I knew it was time. The knife needed to be budget-friendly but highly recommended, basically the best bang for your buck.
That knife? The Victorinox Fibrox 8-inch Chef's Knife ($27).
I still have this knife. In fact, I have two of them! The Victorinox Fibrox 8-inch chef's knife has been a top pick of Cook's Illustrated for over two decades, and likely the reason I bought it in the first place so long ago. While I have added other highly-rated (but higher-priced) chef's knives to my collection over the years, I still use the Victorinox knives all the time. The ergonomic handle is comfortable to hold, the blade is sharp and keeps its edge, and it slices smoothly and silently.
In other words, I wish I'd had this knife when I was starting out in the kitchen! If you know a recent grad about to set up a first apartment, this knife would be a fantastic gift. Starting with good tools breeds confidence and enthusiasm, both key ingredients to develop a life-long love of cooking.