11 years, I'm 22 right now so I pretty much grew up here.
There was no post timer or captcha then, and you could also hide .zips and java script worms in images before uploading if you knew what you were doing, you had to hit F5 to quikly refresh the page /b/ was the core of the site and had not yet been made irrelevant by 5 dozen topical boards. 4chan at the time was like many sites on the internet in that it was just a small/medium community among 100s or 1000s of small/medium communities, and I remember the boards having much more distinct "cultures" than they do now instead of everything being reduced pepes and wojaks. Generals weren't a thing and the only archive was 4chanarchive which only saved threads that were submitted and voted on, so you didn't have all of the mundane threads to sort through.
That isn't to imply that it was perfect, moderation could be bad as a result of it being either overbearing or non-existent, moot still made the occasional mistake in managing the community (forced anon on /b/), and they way that anonymous behaved and characterized itself ultimately enabled the shitshow that was chanology.
I'd say things are worse now, but I can also recognize that what 4chan was in 2007, was a product of its time. If this site has a Golden Age again it won't look like the old days but rather be something of its own.