The author, a new user of lens design computer programs, makes an intercomparison of several commercially available programs in order to provide an unbiased overview of each system's performance. The programs used are ACCOS V of Scientific Calculations, Inc., CODE V of Optical Research Associates, and COOL-GENII and Grey of Genesee Computer Center, Inc. Two fairly standard lenses were designed on each computer program as a means of investigating each program's operating characteristics. First, a Cooke triplet design was developed from a first-order thin lens solution. Second, a double Gauss was redesigned from a lens patent to satisfy new first-order specifications. The evaluation of the computer systems considered in this paper is based primarily on how well each program aids the designer in his task. That is, the emphasis here is on the details of setting up the design problem, optimizing lens performance, and analyzing and interpreting design results. Some topics that are discussed include lens description input; library storage and editing; merit function development and optimization control; design analysis features and tolerancing; and usability and clarity of user manuals, program instruction procedures, and computer data printouts and graphics.