This is documentation for Mathematica 5.2, which was
based on an earlier version of the Wolfram Language.
View current documentation (Version 11.2)

Starting Mathematica

On Windows:

Click Start, point to All Programs, and choose Mathematica 5.1 from the Mathematica 5.1 program group.

On Mac OS X:

Double-click the Mathematica 5.1 icon. If you have placed it in the Dock, you can single-click to launch from there.

On Unix or Linux:

In a shell, type

mathematica

Here is a typical screen after startup.

On the left is a new notebook.

On the right is the Basic Input palette. You can use the Basic Input palette to enter common mathematical symbols and notation.

Click a button in the Startup palette to watch the introductory tutorial, open the Help Browser, or visit the Wolfram Research home page.

First steps with Mathematica...

Type 2+2 and then press ShiftKeyKeyBarEnterKey (hold down the SHIFT key and press ENTER) to tell Mathematica to evaluate your input.

Labels are added automatically.

Output is placed below the input.

Your first calculation will take longer than subsequent calculations because the Mathematica kernel has to start up.

Mathematica is made of two parts: a kernel and a front end. The kernel is the part that does calculations. The front end is the part that handles notebooks and interaction with the user.

TIPS
Bullet On the Macintosh, ShiftKeyKeyBarReturnKey is equivalent to ShiftKeyKeyBarEnterKey.
Bullet On extended keyboards, you can use the EnterKey key at the lower right corner of the numeric keypad to evaluate your input. Pressing the EnterKey key in the main keypad by itself gives you a new line in the same cell. See
Working with Cells and Notebooks for a discussion of cells.
Bullet You can run the kernel directly from a command line; see Special Ways to Run the Kernel to find out how.