If you look closely at the hooks, you will see the differences. Eyed/spade end hooks, barbed, barbless, micro-barbed, fine/medium/heavy wire, long/short shank, wide gape, etc, if I listed all the differences I could think of, this would be a hell of a long post, and I'd probably still miss a few out! Whether all these are needed, is up to the individual, I personally don't think so, but that's just me.
On this link they give a description of the hook and it's intended use. http://www.prestonin...ucts/Hooks-Line
It's the same with the floats, again many different types, each with different conditions, type of fishery, style of fishing, in mind.
In your introduction post, you said you're just coming back into fishing after a long absence. Well, the fish themselves haven't changed, and the things you did before, will still catch. If I were you, I'd start off doing what I know best, and gradually wean yourself into the modern stuff, if, or when, you feel you need it. I'd also take up the offer from the guy who offered to take you, and show you the ropes, it's usually easier to show someone what to do, than explain it.
In the mean time if you post what type of fishing you are interested in, someone on here will have done it, and can advise.
Angling is more than just catching fish, if it wasn't it would just be called 'catching'......... John