When I was younger(eh.. pre-computer/video game time of my life) I spent most of my time either going through those books with all the logic puzzles, adding to and building everything I could think of with every Lego block I could get, and later reading a ton to satisfy my 'addictions' to micro biology and chemistry. I think at one point I even had 90% of the structure/systems of the Hubble telescope memorized..What made you want to program?
I've just always loved problem solving and learning how everything works on the most basic levels, figuring out and building/creating complex things. When I finally got a computer, started looking into how it all worked, and learned about programming I pretty much loved it on sight. For me it was the perfect mix of all three. That it was one of the few subjects out there with enough meat to it that it could hold my interest for a long time. Even after two months of obsessively soaking up everything about it that I could.
As for the compiler/IDE question, I've been using Visual Studio lately. Been trying different ones and haven't fully settled on any one yet. :/