ill toss my ideas into the heap.
i love the old machines. honestly - for most of the quilting i have done a straight stitch is all i would have needed.
old machines can be found cheap. less than $50.00 dollars can get you a good one.
ive had old vikings, kenmore, singers ... all good machines.
the only problem i have with old machines is .. i cant fix them. lots and lots of people can, most sewing machine stores will have a repair shop, too. but - watch out getting an old machine - it can cost up to 100$ to fix them up.
there are machines that people say will last forever - the old black singers seem to be on the top of that list. (with others .. but for ease of newbies .. )
i dont have good luck with old machines. i tried and i wanted to. i dont like the idea of new everything - but, ive never had a used car that got fixed right and ive never had a used sewing machine that got fixed right either. i dont drive anymore and i dont buy old machines anymore. thats just me.
the problem with starting to sew is .. when i started i had no idea if i was going to like it! i hate to spend money on something i had no idea if i was ever going to use.
for a first machine get something used, old and cheap. less than 50.00. that will make a stitch. play with it and see if sewing is fun... i loved sewing from day 1.