Hmm there were torches in my Dad's garage but my earliest memory of actually using one was around age 10, when I recieved a 2XD torch from a "$2 store".
Always viewed them as a way to quickly flatten batteries until the advent of white LED torches. The first one I used for any amount of time was a plastic one that had a halogen bulb and ran off 2 D batteries, I used it as a spotlight while I delivered pizzas (shudder) for several months during the winter of '99. It did manage to last on one set of batteries which gave me a lot of respect for halogen bulbs. A few years later I bought a Dolphin Mk 5 torch and put a halogen bulb in it, which I used for occasional household use.