A Quadra with ClarisWorks and Mathematica: All You Need for a Thesis

It was early 1995, and I was a young graduate student in the Environmental Engineering department at Clemson University. I was finishing up my research and desperately needed a computer to produce my thesis on. There were quite a few Macs at the University, but the trend towards switching to Wintel was already picking up steam.

I, however, was quite sure that I wanted a Mac. I had enough problems in getting my research finished and my thesis produced – I had no desire to add to my workload by acquiring a non-intuitive and crash-prone Windows PC.

Quadra 605I knew I would need a good bit of CPU horsepower and RAM to pull together my thesis and crunch my research data. But as a starving student with a wife and small child, money was a definite obstacle. After a lot of research, I decided that my best bet was a Quadra 605 with a whopping 8 MB of RAM, 14″ Apple monitor, and a StyleWriter II printer. I scraped together my savings and bought a used system.

That little computer was all I imagined and more! ClarisWorks was used to produce all the graphics and equations, as well as the finished thesis. I have never really found a program since that was as intuitive and full featured.

Towards the end of my thesis, I needed to solve a fairly complicated set of differential equations which described the chemical reactions I had investigated. A copy of Mathematica with it’s wonderful symbolic engine came to the rescue. I set up my equations, pushed the button, and hoped for the best. The Quadra chugged all night on it, and the next morning I walked in to find the solution. I quickly verified that the solution was correct and let out a huge sigh of relief, as I could now see light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve since gone on to use a lot of computers in my personal and professional life, but there will always be a fondness for the little pizza box Quadra that stuck with me during a challenging time.

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