I think it must have been my red Photon Microlight II around 2003. I can't think of any LED light I owned before that. I was never really into the early Surefire LED lights, only had a few. Now they are mainly a curiosity to me, to remember that puke green donut wall of light of the Luxeon 5 KL4 or that strange square beam of the Luxeon 3 KL1.
I honestly can’t remember. Maybe a first generation Petzl Tikka? Maybe a first generation CMG Infinity Task Light? I’m guessing late 1990s? That was half my life ago, so everything is fuzzy. I doubt I had anything LED before those. I would have had primarily Mini Mag-Lites before that from about 1986-on. When I went to college, it was the hip thing among us Theatre Design students to have a Mini Mag-Lite when doing stage tech work.
Technically I think my “first” LED light was a shake light. It was something about like this:
What I would consider to be my actual first LED light would be my silver 2AA Rebel (090 LED) mini mag. I think I got it in 2008 or 2009 (it has the old style rounded tail cap without the hole for a lanyard) at Walmart and it was my EDC light up until 2015 or so when I dropped it on concrete in the garage and damaged the LED, it still worked but you would have to smack it to get it to turn on. To be fair, at that point it had taken countless drops and abuse over the years. I bought a new LED mini mag and retired the silver one. I did get a new LED module from Mag for it about a year ago and much to my surprise, they did actually send me a new Rebel 090 LED for it. The original 090 was more of a neutral white tint and the replacement has a purple-like hue to it, it’s still pretty good but it is definitely not as white as the original. I still carry it from time to time and it stays in my car door on standby. At 69 lumens it still isn’t a bad light even by today’s standards. I thought it was the best thing ever when I got it, it blew my cheap plastic 2D incandescent lights that I had been using out of the water and a set of alkaline batteries would last me several weeks at a time.
Mine was similar back around 2003, a small keychain 1xAAA flashlight case with modified holder to take 4 LR41 cells. One 5mm white LED and not very bright but it was a start. Just a few years before that I got my hands on one of the earliest 5mm white LEDs produced (still have it); at the time expected lifetime was only 10k hours but no concern in a flashlight.
Around the same time I acquired a 3xAA metal flashlight using four blue 5mm LEDs. That one got used during the big power outage here in Aug. 2003; kind of weird effect outside, but neighbours and the cat didn't seem to mind.
Photon keychain light I'm pretty sure. Probably from REI, though I don't know if the whole color spectrum of them that I then bought was from there or if I had to go online. From there it went on to whatever Princeton Tec had at REI, Arc AAA and the Luxeon I CR123 version, plus an investment in EverLEDs (early Luxeon I PR replacement, also available in colors. I have a teal in a 2C maglite still, dunno where the rest are).
After my car got broken into and my Satin Grey E2 and 3P got stolen I went out looking for something brighter and more pocketable. Eventually ended up getting this on Ebay and have barely glanced at an incan since!