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June 6th, 2000

[1:00 PM] Conflicting MATLAB Stories Cirulcate, But Company Offically Sticks By "No New Mac Version"
by Kyle D'Addario

If you are a Mac user and have been waiting for a new version of MATLAB, as they say, "Don't hold your breath." MATLAB is a powerful, and popular, "technical computing environment" that provides advanced mathematical functionality, along with top of the line graphical and visual representation. MATLAB is used in many areas, and is enormously popular in one of Apple's traditional strong markets; academia.

However, the Macintosh version of MATLAB has been stuck at 5.2.1 for some time, while the Windows version has reached 5.3.1. Also, many of the MATLAB add-ons, increasing the base program's functionality, have been updated or released for the new version on Windows, while the Macintosh has been left behind.

Observer Jon Jacobs sent us a letter regarding a petition, urging people to contact MathWorks and voice their desire for this product on the Mac platform. While we also encourage you to do that, if you are truly interested in the product, be aware that your requests might fall on deaf ears. Mr. Jacobs has some excellent thoughts on this, so we are including his letter which includes a letter circulating to Mac MATLAB users:

If there is even a remote chance that it is possible to fan the embers of MATLAB for Macintosh back to life, it is important that its users stand up and be counted. While some good (some say better) alternatives to MATLAB exist on the Mac, the loss of MATLAB has been devastating to the viability of the Mac in science/engineering, especially in the universities, where it gets harder and harder to find them each year.

With the vector processing capabilities of the G4 still largely unexploited, and a real UNIX-based OS coming Real Soon Now, this would be an ideal time to get some Mac workstations back in education (influencing future engineers...), and getting MATLAB for Macintosh back into active development would be a a real step towards that end.

This is not a call for spamming The Mathworks. They need an uncontaminated estimate of MATLAB's Mac users. If you are seriously interested in MATLAB, please write. Please check around your department and try to get your sci/eng colleagues to contact The MathWorks.



Dear [MATLAB user]:

We have been informed that MathWorks is considering a new version of Matlab for the Mac. However, they need to hear from users to see how much demand there is for it.

If you want to see a new version, send some E-mail to Andrew May ( Include details about what you would use the software for, what toolboxes and other components you use, how many installations of Matlab you have, etc. The MathWorks will compile user requests and see what they can do to make it happen.

The Mac Observer spoke with MathWorks representative Tara Callahan, who quickly put any such rumors to rest. According to Ms. Callahan, "The Macintosh version of MATLAB has stabilized and is no longer supported. There are currently no plans to update or produce a new Mac version of MATLAB any time in the near future." While there is a Mac version of MATLAB available, it is officially an unsupported piece of software.

Perhaps, in the future, MathWorks will see the benefit of releasing a new Mac version of MATLAB.

The Mac Observer Spin: Another company producing a similar product, regarding use and potential markets, is SPSS. SPSS for the Macintosh has long sat at version 6.1, while last summer saw the release of version 9 for Windows. However, SPSS has thrown its hat back into the Mac market with the announced release of SPSS 10 for OS X. While we can only guess that the delay in the official release of OS X will also delay the release of SPSS 10 for the Mac, it is comforting to know that such a product is indeed in the pipeline.

While there have been some suggestions that MathWorks is planning a new version, official word from them is that they are not. This is really too bad, as programs like MATLAB, SPSS, Maple, SAS, and others represent a high end educational market, one that Apple has traditionally dominated.

Regarding MATLAB, we hope that this is nothing more than corporate posturing, and that there really are plans to breath new life into the Mac version. Perhaps if SPSS 10 sees success on the Mac side, companies like MathWorks will reconsider their stance on producing for the Mac platform. We also want to emphasize Mr. Jacobs' message that this is not a call to SPAM or flame MathWorks as neither would do any good. If you are a serious potential or current user of MATLAB, let them know.


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