I think most of us oldtimers know the answer is "yes". In my teens, I was in a group right here in the Poconos (Rach and I have Escaped From New York for a few days) and one player in our group owned none of the books. I THINK he owned a set of dice but I could be wrong. As far as I can recall I was the only group member with the DMG (and pretty much the only DM).
This wasn't uncommon back in the 80s. I knew of groups that had one communal Basic Set and one communal Expert Set, and whoever was DMing took possession of the boxes until the next DM stepped up, then rinse and repeat.
I strongly suspect this whole concept is foreign to players that started with 3e and later. The OGL lowered the ownership barrier, players could download the 3x SRD or simply play a freely distributed OSR game under the OGL - S&W Core, Labyrinth Lord, and OSRIC are some fine earlier examples, but there are more. Heck, these days you can even play 5e without paying for the rules - the Basic rules are your to grab for free in PDF (the only version of the 5e rules available in PDF from WotC as far as I know).
Did you own the rules to the RPG you started playing? How long was it before you had your own copy of the rules? I'm curious.