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Mathematica 7 Home Edition for $295

For a long time I've been very interested in Mathematica as a tool for mathematical exploration. But, I've never been interested in paying nearly $2,500 for the retail version. (Yes, I'm aware that there are steep educational discounts but I'm not a students so those don't apply to me.) Recently, Wolfram Research announced the Mathematica 7 Home Edition for $295. Wow! I'm now very excited about the value of Mathematica, especially in playing with Math ideas. And, if you were wondering, at only 12% of the Professional Edition, Mathematica 7 Home Edition is NOT a stripped down or time-restricted version of the software. It's the full-blown Mathematica 7 with the only restriction being that Mathematica 7 Home Edition cannot be used for teaching, research, or work.

I received a review copy of the Home Edition from Wolfram and I will be reporting on what I discover about the program.

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  1. Mathematica is my favorite mathematical package, hands down. The syntax is consistent and predictable. The graphics look good. Plenty of functionality, well documented, etc. The only downside is the price. My employer pays for my license, but it’s well worth it in time saved compared to using other packages.

    It’s good to hear Wolfram is offering a lower priced alternative. But what would you do with Mathematica at home other than “teaching, research, or work”? Even if you’re just noodling around, you’re at least indirectly working. Say you’re fooling around with Plot[]. Why are you interested in Plot[]? Probably because you need it for work. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would (or even could) follow the license strictly.

  2. John — as an avid fan of recreational Math my play with Mathematica will be completely within the license terms. I think there are plenty of us who wouldn’t use Mathematica for work. In particular, I think there’s a huge potential market for high school kids to enrich their education through guided and unguided explorations. Now, those kids and their parents should look at the various licenses and pick the one that makes sense to them.

  3. I see your point. There are a lot of people who enjoy recreational math who don’t teach or use math at work.

    But it seems to me that most of the people who would be interested in the product enough to pay for it would be teachers, researchers, and others who use math at work. In my case, the math I explore for my own enjoyment is often connected to math I need for work. I would find the license very fuzzy.

    I imagine the license will be greatly abused, unfortunately. I try to abide by licenses, and I resent paying higher prices to subsidize people who do not.

  4. I was recently looking at picking up Mathematica. But even $295 is too steep. I wonder if there is a GNU version, like Octave is to Matlab.

  5. Personally, I could more easily justify spending $2,500 for the professional edition than spending $295 for a home edition.

    Mathematica is SO much more polished than any open source software I’ve used that it’s well worth the money. Using an open source approximation of Mathematica at work would feel like saving money by having a small monitor and an uncomfortable chair.

  6. Hi Sol

    I agree with John on this one – I think that it would be difficult to stay completely within the terms of the license but I do welcome Wolfram’s recognition of the hobbyist mathematician.

    As for open source Mathematica – the closest I have come across so far is SAGE

    http://www.sagemath.org/ (main website)
    http://www.walkingrandomly.com/?p=103 (my first look at it)

    but Mathematica still beats it hands down for much of the stuff I do. Your milage may vary.

    Finally Sol, if you need any help getting used to Mathematica then feel free to drop me an email – will happily give you support when I can.

    Best Wishes,

  7. > not for teaching, research, or work

    Obviously, it’s meant to be used to put up neat stuff on blogs and talk about them.

    I think it’s an incredibly clever marketing move.

  8. I think this is a great move on Wolfram’s part. Prior to this, the only choices that a hobbyist had were a)violate the licensee terms for an edu version, b)obtain a pirated version, c)pay $2500 for the commercial version, or d)do without.

    I’ve been doing without for years. I even have a student version from 1992 or so, that I can’t even use without violating the license, since I am no longer a student.

    But yeah, there is plenty of hobbyist potential, and the more people exposed to it, the more likely it will convert to commercial sales.

  9. I agree, I also properly license software (and music). I have Mathematica on my desktop at work and bought the single extension of the professional version for home use on the tablet I transport to and from work (about $500 more)as required by Wolfram’s licensing structure.

    I’ve purchased “Mathematica Home Version” for the computer my wife and kids use, though it’s not impossible I’ll use it on that computer. Since it’s the third machine with a license, I’ll not feel guilty if I mess with something that might be related to work. Hopefully, Wolfram will agree.

  10. Just finished my second day with the mathmatica demo and it is a really exciting and flexible software. I highly recommend Bruce Torrence’s ‘Student guide to Mathematica’, which provides
    a great intro to the syntax and graphing functions.
    I don’t think wolfram does a very good job explaining how powerful and encompassing their syntactical approach is. Also, my early 2d graphs are far better looking than anything on the wolfram promo site. Try the demo–its fun.

  11. Does anyone know if the home version of Mathematica also expires after some time? That is, does one need to pay the $295 (or so) on a yearly basis, or is it a one-time investment?

    Also, can it be installed on several computers (I have a desktop and a laptop, both for private use).

    Any replies would be greatly appreciated …

  12. At last, at last. I had a copy of Mathematica 2 back in the late eighties that ran on my Mac. I got it from Wolfram as a gift for giving a pretty good review in our Apple Users Group newsletter. After that it was either pay around $2000. So I’ve contented myself with trial, 30-day copies. I always thought that if Microsoft had a Home and Student Edition for the Office suite, why couldn’t Wolfram. Microsoft’s “Full” version is over $500. I will now save up and get this copy of Mathematical 7 Home Edition. Of course, I won’t use it in any professional way.

  13. I think this is a terrific idea. To give you an idea of someone who can stay well within the license — I studied science back in my college years, and continue to work in technology related areas. However, I don’t formally do any design work, or publish science papers or research. I like to continue studying both science and engineering as a hobby. I’ve wanted to learn how to use Mathematica for years, but cost was prohibitive. At this price however, I can finally afford to try it and see what I’ve been missing.

  14. The Mathematica Home Edition is essentially just what I’ve been trying to get Wolfram to market, namely a reasonably priced Mathematica for retired individuals who have no connection to a large enterprise that provides them access. No old fossil like me is going to spend thousands for Mathematica. Now we can get it for $249 because they are discounting another 15% for those who are on their e-mail list like I am. I’m very tempted to bite on this offer. The only thing holding me back is that I am still on XP and would be afraid of losing my Mathematica if I switch over to a new computer such as a Mac or a PC with 7 on it.

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