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What was your first Mathematica version ?

Posted 5 months ago
26 Replies
116 Total Likes

MODERATORS' NOTE: We will be displaying the collage of people's images at the top of this discussion. Dear all, please, do post the images of Wolfram things dear to your memories here :-) Thank you, Daniel Carvalho, for a delightful question!

enter image description here

Today installing Mathematica 12.3 I notes that there are previous versions installed too in my Linux box:

daniel@home:/opt/Wolfram/Mathematica$ ls -l
total 28
drwxr-xr-x 7 root root 4096 nov 20  2014 10.0
drwxr-xr-x 7 root root 4096 ago 14  2016 11.0
drwxr-xr-x 7 root root 4096 abr 26  2017 11.1
drwxr-xr-x 7 root root 4096 jun 26  2020 12.1
drwxr-xr-x 7 root root 4096 jan 12 23:20 12.2
drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 mai 13 13:23 12.3
drwxr-xr-x 7 root root 4096 ago 19  2013 9.0.1

It is interesting to see that the older version is around 9 in 2013, and the years of installation for the other releases, according my folders.

In fact my first version of Mathematica was 4.0 (1999), for calculus classes in college.

In Computer Engineering that time we had 5 semesters of calculus classes, and just the last one we went to the lab to make some more interesting projects applying the theory to practical experiments. The basic calculus classes usually ware just whiteboard, pen and paper, book and exercises. A very traditional engineering college.

It was interesting getting the last exercises from lists, the most complex cases, and have it solved immediately!!

I can recall that version 6.0 was the most interesting for me, I have used it at master degree. Since version 6.0 I have been publishing lots of Demonstrations with the Manipulate function, it is really fun! It got my playing video game timing! :-)

In my parents house I found this boxes with my old college stuff:
enter image description here

I went to the Wolfram Summer School in 2007 while back in college for the Master in Electrical Engineering, and latter again in 2011 for a new research about NKS computational principles.

Latter on I get certified, Wolfram Certified Instructor

Since 2013 I have been organizing the Wofram conference in Brazil with Mackenzie University team and other friends, by my installations dates, I have used 9.0.1 at the first conference here. In 2021 and 2020 the conf is virtual for safety (remote):

And now I am very excited with 12.3!!

The Mathematica versions history is available at:

What was your first Mathematica version??

26 Replies

My first version of Mathematica was an alpha test on a 1/4 inch tape to run on a Sun Workstation in my office at NCSA in Illinois in the 80s. Given to me by Stephen to test long before it was called Mathematica. I may have been the first user outside of his actual developers, not sure. I used it mainly on SunOS, but later I had it on a NeXT machine, also in alpha test, I got from Jobs if memory serves. I had to hide the NeXT machine at home as no one was supposed to see it yet. I think I may have the tape somewhere in storage.

My first version of Mathematica: version 1.1 for the Macintosh II. This version does not show up on Wolfram's history, but I've got the box. It was specifically for the Macintosh II because it was the only Mac at the time that had the dedicated numeric co-processor.

I've had every version since, all for macOS. Currently working with 12.3 beta for the Apple Silicon chip.

First version used was on an Apple (??) in college for a physics class ~1988. That professor went on to write a few Physics Lab books using Mathematica. Could not afford Apple machines let alone NeXT; so for home use I later purchased Mathematica 1.2 for 386 MS-DOS (1989?). Shorly after that I got a math co-processor and updated to 386/387 version of Mathematica. I could not find those boxes but it came with Stephen Wolfram's Mathematica Book "A System for..." and a few other manuals. I have upgraded and kept my license current since.

enter image description here

Wow, you are way ahead of me, I think my first version was 7 - used it ever since (on Windows). I was exposed to Maple in the early 80's but as a student couldn't afford to buy it (or the required computing power). Fascinated by it in 1987 I started to develop my own "algebraic manipulator" on my IBM XT clone (8088 processor) with Turbo Prolog (Borland) which was quite effient given memory constraints. I got it to a point where I could do some basic functions similar to Mathematica's Collect[] , Expand[], D[], Integrate[] and Plot[]. It was command line based. I remember Prolog was perfect for constructing the parser, and the list like data structures made it very suitable for the application at the time. Proud of my progress I presented it to my research group at the Acoustics and Vibration lab (ME) at MIT, but received a lot of not exactly encouraging blank stares. It not being the focus of my research, I gave up on it. I feel that the experience of my own effort lets me better appreciate the accomplishment of what Mathematica is today.

My first version of Mathematica is v2.2. I was solving a queueing model for performance analysis of a fault-tolerant system with it. Version 2 was released by floppy disks, but I could not find the box. Instead I post the picture of the box of Version 3, released by CD. I miss those days! enter image description here

Worldwide Mathematica Conference Chicago 1998


Posted 5 months ago

My first experience with Mathematica was with whatever version was included in my purchase of a neXt computer in late 1990. I no longer have it or any documentation included. It might be 1.n or 2. Does anybody know what vsn. that would have been?

@Mark, perhaps this page can help you - Mathematica Quick Revision History:

Posted 5 months ago

My personal bet is that the first version I used was 2.2, on university AlphaStations back in 1995. Apparently the first version I wasn't using under university licensing scheme was 4.1.1. I have to conclude that I'm a latecomer, right? (Frankly I think the reason to get a license back then was that licensing structure had become more friendly to nonprofessional individuals, but I can't quite tell 20+ years since the event!)

Nice post! My first Mathematica version was also 4.0. I remember a physics professor that told us: you have to learn this! And then he started teaching us how to use it in his free time, of course with the intention we would become more productive in his classes of classical mechanics. Anyway I think the version I used more for university homework was 5.2.

version 2.2

I would be interested in knowing how people initially learned Mathematica. It has changed quite a bit over the various versions. When I started with Mathematica, it came on 4 floppies (as I recall), and the documentation was the book and an additional book or two about specifics for your platform and some of the packages. You could read the book in a day or so, although understanding it took some playing around with the app. There was no documentation center. Those of us on Macs could use Nancy Blachman's Hypercard stack (assuming you had enough RAM to run both simultaneously). I was fortunate in that my SE/30 (and later IIfx) had a whopping 20 Megabytes of RAM. There were services like Compuserve, but no World Wide Web.

As later versions came out, I would read the new Mathematica Book first and see what was new and changed -- the books got longer as the version numbers increased, until version 6 (?) had no printed book.

The point is that my initial experience of Mathematica is quite different from someone who started with version 6 or later. I would like to know how these people learned Mathematica.

Of course, programming itself got more complicated in pretty much the same way. I learned c and Macintosh programming at pretty much the same time, and for c, K&R was ok for a while, you needed more eventually. Inside Macintosh went from 3 volumes to 6 to 40 to electronic only over the same time span. I have no experience with Windows or Linux coding, but I imagine it was similar.

It would also be interesting to hear how those of us who are long time users handled the evolution of Mathematica. I still miss a reference book in the same way that I miss a real unabridged dictionary vs the on-line dictionaries: I can still find the definition of any work I can enter, but one cannot 'read' an on-line dictionary the way you can a physical one -- I finally purchased an OED second edition (one volume version with magnifier) just to have some of that experience.

I find that I have missed newer and better ways of doing stuff that I had learned how to do with earlier versions.

On the other hand, having 'live' documentation is really very useful, and am glad to have it.


any stories about learning to use Mathematica??

Posted 5 months ago

A long time ago, out of the blue, my father purchased me a copy of Mathematica 2.2 for students during a Mac World Expo in Boston. I never asked for it, he just purchased it for me and I had not idea of what to do with it. At the time I preferred to use different product called Theorist from Prescience Corporation which was much easier to use, but not programmable. It took a long time to grow on me but eventually I realized that Mathematica was better because of its flexibility and power.

Posted 5 months ago

Version 2.1 on Win 3.1. Things just keep on getting better!

A 3-ring conference binder, from back when we collected paper copies!

I forgot to mention that there was also Macsyma (Lisp based) which at the time (1980's) was the dominant software in the space. Macsyma apparently had several problems, no implementation on various popular platforms, licensing, cost and ability in solving numerical problems and quickly was overtaken by Mathematica.

Look what I found most on Linux box:

daniel@home:/usr/local/bin$ ls -l Mathematica*
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 53 mai 13 15:24 Mathematica -> /opt/Wolfram/Mathematica/12.3/Executables/Mathematica
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 53 jan 12 23:19 Mathematica12.2 -> /opt/Wolfram/Mathematica/12.2/Executables/Mathematica
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 53 jun 26  2020 Mathematica.old -> /opt/Wolfram/Mathematica/12.1/Executables/Mathematica

Wow @George Woodrow III, that is interesting. Would be very nice if you post here a photo of the box of Mathematica V1.1, but I understand if you don't have the time.

I remember Theorist. I had a copy of it. It was an elegant program, and being a dedicated Mac Program, more polished rendering of 3-D graphics. According to the LiveMath website, the program was sold to Waterloo Maple. Ironic, in that Maple abandoned the Macintosh during the dark days.

I also remember going to MacWorld in Boston. Nice place to get swag.

My first look to Mathematica 4.0 in college lab was as an advanced calculator. I learned first at calculus handouts written by two professors: Iara Braz and Cleide Rizzatto.

We basically solved limits, derivatives and integrals. The good part is that in the standard calculus classes with pen and paper we just solve didactic books exercises without context, and with Mathematica we were able to look at more real problems and give the dirty work to Mathematica, and focus on problem-solving as an engineer really works, modeling problems as differential and integral equations, and checking graphically the solutions.

Latter I read some Mathematica books and lots of tutorials and documentations on the WEB. Mathematica online documentation is a good place to learn too, since the beginning.

Nowadays, I look at Mathematica and Wolfram Language as a mature platform, not just for calculus but to do all kinds of advanced computation and application.

Wolfram Language makes me lazy!!! :-) When I need to do something in Java, Python or JavaScript. Those other languages require a lot of boilerplate to get to the real problem-solving, most in data science!

I appreciate the responses! They are all very interesting perspectives!!

I still have my conference binder from 1999. Pages are long gone, though.

Very nice @Frank Kampas, any photo for anything related to V2.2?

Thanks for sharing @George Woodrow III this a computing historical artifact! :-)

Thank you George. Looks elegant, and the box is in great condition.

Posted 5 months ago

Thanks. The timing suggests that it was either 1.2 or 2.0.

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