Wouter Meeussen, Senior Scientist, Vandemoortele N.V., Belgium
It was in 1995 that I saw the manual to Mathematica 2.2 in a bookshop. I realised it would make hours of pencil and paper calculation unnecessary, and allow us to explore chemical systems more easily. So, my boss provided the budget and soon we entered the CAS age. One of the first notebooks, apart from exercises needed to climb the steep learning curve, was a simple program to explore the combinatorics of chemical interesterification of triglycerides. But what most struck me (and helped me up the curve) was the quality of the online help file. Never before or since have I encountered such a gem: hit F1 and get context-related in-depth syntax and alternatives presented, along with some math background! Compare that to “talking paperclips” and “tail-wagging doggies” that other well-known software paraded as “help”.
Nearly all I know about math today, I learned using Mathematica 4.0. Where would I be without it?