Back in 1998 (that's 10 years ago) I got a cover disk off some UK computer magazine - it was for Bryce2. It was amazing - I could ray trace and construct with ease - and my friends were amazed when their invites had customized ray traced images on them.
Bryce changed companies a few times and is now in the hands of DAZ software. The generous people there have released Bryce5.5 for free as they release Bryce 6 onto the market.
I was amazed at how easy it was to get restarted with Bryce - the image above took me about 5 mins to create - and about the same to render. Yes I know it's pretty simple but I'm at work so playing with this stuff is not really my job.