Since a number of people have indicated what album had the greatest influence on them personally – I thought I'd add my two cents in. Our family was quite musically oriented. I had a few piano and trumpet lessons and I had a fair amount of exposure to a small but eclectic variety of folk music (along with many other types of music) during the fifties – Burl Ives, Marias & Miranda, singing On top of Old Smokey and Clementine on car trips, Harry Belafonte, Paul Robeson spirituals, Stephen Foster etc.. As a result I enjoyed folk music but no more than any other kind of music.
The Kingston Trio album came out when I was in 6th grade and I thought it was pretty cool - I didn't buy it but a friend had it. I liked Three Jolly Coachmen, Banua, Hard Ain't it Hard and Scotch and Soda. I thought Tom Dooley, which did get a fair amount of air play, was a bit odd with its syncopated calypso beat and its spoken opening (I didn't know what the "eternal triangle" was). Then in the summer of 1958 the Kinston Trio At Large album came out with the single MTA and Dave Guard's (relatively simplistic Scruggs) banjo break. As of that moment I wanted to play the banjo - I wanted to be Dave Guard, or at least replace him. That Fall I bought a used 5 string for $50 worth of summer lawn mowing money, along with an instruction book - which happened to be Pete Seeger's How the Play the Five String Banjo - taught myself how to play and became totally obsessed with it for a few years.
I had countless other early influences as I learned: Seeger, the Weavers, Eric Darling, The Limelighters, The Greenbriar Boys and of course all the early KT albums just to name a few. I moved up to a Vega longneck after a year (not the Seeger model, I was too poor – the cheaper Folkways model). I read "Sing Out" faithfully and started learning about the some of the pre fifties folks like Leadbelly, Woodie, Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs. After a couple of years I got a little bored with the limitations of the banjo and started doodling on the guitar – Joan Baez, Josh White, Cisco Houston. I joined a folk trio in high school playing mostly banjo and the other guys (guitarists) had a lot of other folk albums including Gibson & Camp, the Clancy Brothers, Jack Elliot, Ian and Sylvia, and Judy Collins. When Peter Paul and Mary came out I fell in love with their music and one of the guys taught me how to Travis pick. I learned about every tune on their first five albums. Eventually I went almost exclusively to guitar. Over the years I went through Lightfoot, Simon & Garfield, Dylan, the Byrds, Tom Rush, Eric Anderson, James Taylor, CSN&Y, the Eagles,Beatles and Stones, Grateful Dead, etc, etc - a little bit of Country, a smattering of Bluegrass, a touch of Rock, some of the Blues, a tad of Classical, etc and finally ended up currently playing with an Old Time string band. We do mostly square dance music along with some other traditional songs or tunes (including occasionally a pre KT version of Dooley). I also teach folk guitar and I still do occasional bits of non trad music.
I don't play Kingston Trio music much any more, although I do use a few of the tunes they did (like Worried Man) in my teaching - a lot of people know the melody already (probably in great part due to KT's popularization), and the three simple chords with slow changes makes it easy to teach. Other than that I cant say that the Kingston Trio has much influence on the music I play. However, I doubt very much that I would be where I am now if it had not been for MTA – that banjo break in that tune on that album by that group made me get and learn how to play my first folk instrument, gave me the desire to want to play that kind of music well enough to perform, and instilled in me the interest to seek out, learn and incorporate other performances and styles of folk music. And once in a while I get the old Vega out and see if I can still do that damn break.
So how typical was my experience for people of that vintage and what was truly my greatest influence? Haven't a clue.