I started visual observing of variable stars in the 1980's after having met Clint Ford at Ford Observatory.
Here is the scope I was using at the time, a 12" Newtonian. I built the mounting about 20 years earlier just out of high school. It's all steel and weighed a ton!
The scope had setting circles to point it to a field of view. I used a large military surplus Erfle eyepiece to find the field. I made about 3,000 visual observations with this scope.