The story of WinMath

In the begining…

What happens when two freshmen college students get bored of studying?

Others may have turned to crime, or worse, but Mathieu Lafourcade and I decided to develop a program for the Macintosh, in the hope of maybe making a buck or two. The Macintosh was the obvious platform for us: we were both enthusiastic about its ground breaking graphical user interface and native compilers were just becoming available, making it affordable to develop on. We decided to use the LightSpeed Pascal environment because Mathieu was more familiar with Pascal than C. The LightSpeed development environment was also much better: it offered a syntax directed editor and an integrated, project-based, development environment. LightSpeed was later to become Think Pascal, then Symantec Pascal.

WinMath screenshot

Before the first color Macintosh even shipped, WinMath could already print color graphs!

    Having decided on the tools we would use, we had to decide what to craft we them. We decided that we might as well do a program that would be useful to us. Since we were in our first year, majoring in Math and Physics (an unfortunate requirements of the French curriculum to later major in Computer Science) we would write a program to study mathematical functions.

WinMath screenshot

WinMath plots cartesian and parametric functions.

    I would be writing the user interface of the software, SkyGraph, Mathieu would come up with the tricks to make the drawing and the mathematical operations run fast enough on the 8 MHz 68000 that equipped the Macintosh Plus.

    As easter was approaching, I decided to try to get an internship at WinSoft, a local Macintosh software company. I figured that I could impress them, despite my lack of formal qualification, by showing them SkyGraph. Impressed they were, and shortly after they offered me not only an internship but also to publish what would now be called WinMath.

Since then…

In 1988, I wrote version 2 of WinMath, which incorporated additional features, including ones more geared toward the education market. WinMath has been distributed in France, in the UK, in Australia, and in Arab countries.


Téléchargez WinMath maintenant (179 Ko)…


Download WinMath now(176 KB)…

    Today, WinMath is not distributed by WinSoft anymore. Unfortunately, the commercial version of WinMath is copy-protected and the copy protection scheme is incompatible with the latest Mac OS computers available. I have recompiled a new version of WinMath (2.2d1) without copy protection and with all the features enabled, fixing a few bugs in the process. This version is available free of charge to anybody who might be interested. You can dowload it from this page, in either french or english.

    While the PenMac project I had come to work on at Apple was… er… “winding down”, I had the great opportunity to influence Ron Avitzur who conceived the Graphing Calculator who shipped with the first PowerPC-based Macintosh. The Graphing Calculator is a great tool. It is close to what WinMath would have become if Mathieu and I had kept working on it :-)