I came into the world in May 1959 at the «Elena Venizelos» Maternity Hospital in Ambelokipi (a neighbourhood of Athens), so it is not strange at all that I ended up being both a Venizelist and a Panathinaikos fan. The first one, of course, was due to my grandfather Stamatis Hadjiyiannis, a refugee originally from Kato Panagia (now Çiftlik) near Çeşme in Asia Minor. My grandfather, an ardent supporter of Eleftherios Venizelos, introduced me from a young age to Asia Minor lore, as well as to the failed but glorious venture of the Asia Minor Campaign (i.e. the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-22). The second one was easily predictable since we lived in Ambelokipi, where Panathinaikos is based. Indeed, a large part of the interior of its stadium could be seen from the roof of our house. I remember with nostalgia the first match (Panathinaikos - Panahaïki 2-0) I saw at the stadium around 1970, accompanying my father Thomas Poulimenos, who, although a football enthusiast, was not a fan of any particular team.

As a child, I attended the «Ionios» elementary school. Although I was constantly drawing and painting in my books during class, at the same time I recorded in memory everything my teachers said. So, I was best in class with hardly any studying. This tactic was of no help later in high school at the German School of Athens, as I hadn’t any practice in studying at all. Although I still was a good student, I was not topnotch as before. I excelled in math and sports though, especially in football and track-and-field sports. In sprints particularly, I was unequalled. In my spare time however, the activity that fascinated and absorbed me from my childhood on was reading - extracurricular books, of course.


I learned to read very early, even before going to kindergarten, by asking my mother Litsa Poulimenos (née Hadjiyiannis) about what was written on the signs I saw in the street. I haven't stopped reading ever since. I recall a number of bound volumes of «I Diaplasis ton Pedon» magazine issues that my mom had brought to me, somewhat outdated of course but nevertheless enjoyable. I especially liked the adventures of Pippinos, who later became better known in Greece under his original name, «Le Petit Nicolas».

I absorbed everything: «Illustrated Classics», «Mickey Mouse», «Lucky Luck», and generally every children's magazine that was in circulation, be it illustrated or not. Also children's versions of classic literature - Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Jules Verne etc. -, children's encyclopedias, but also adult newspapers and magazines, even those of Grandma and Mom. I literally read everything that fell into my hands. My greatest joy was when I returned from summer camp and found a stack of illustrated magazine issues from the last two to three weeks waiting for me at the neighborhood convenience store. Or even when I discovered a complete series of «Mikros Serifis» («Little Sheriff») issues in my aunt's underground storage room - a real treasure!

Later, without giving up on any of the above, I devoured the works of several contemporary Greek writers, and especially those of Nikos Kazantzakis, who influenced me so much that I began to imitate his style in my essays at school. At the same time, I discovered science fiction, which I would read directly in English. My favorites are Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harry Harrison, Robert HeinleinRobert Silverberg etc. Today, over 300 volumes of science fiction are gathering dust in my library.

Thanks to the wide-ranging scientific knowledge of prolific writer Isaac Asimov, I became acquainted with popular science books, featuring  topics in physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, medicine, mathematics and artificial intelligence. Here I was accompanied by Richard DawkinsJared DiamondRichard FeynmanMartin GardnerSteven Jay GouldCarl Sagan and others, but especially by Douglas Hofstadter’s unmatched «Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid», a book on intelligence - natural and artificial - full of wordplay, which perhaps for this reason has never been translated into Greek. At the same time, I journeyed with the philosophers starring in Luciano de Crescenzo's works and with the mystics of Carlos Castaneda, as well with as various German writers while I was studying and working in Germany.

Another favorite genre of mine is mystery novels. Here my preference is for the classics, with Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie at the top - I have over eighty books by her in my library. Rex Stout's unmovable Nero Wolfe is also cherished, as are the noir novels of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and others. The latter inspired me to look for and enjoy a multitude of old black and white noir films of the 1950s and 60s. Finally, I shouldn’t omit Andrea Camilleri’s inspector Montalbano, as well as the Chinese judge Dee of Robert van Gulik.

I left history at the end of the list, because it is the subject that has kept my undiminished interest since my teens to this day. Although I am not indifferent to any historical period, there are nevertheless three that thrill me in particular. The first one begins with the discovery of writing in Mesopotamia and the Near East and ends with the destruction of many of the region’s states around 1200 BC. Indeed, one of my heroes is Michael Ventris, the person who deciphered Linear B. Then there are the more than thousand years of the Eastern Roman Empire - Byzantium. For this period, Sir Steven Runciman and Donald Nicol stand out, but also the vivid amateur historian John Julius Norwich and the historical novels of Kostas Kyriazis. Finally, I am also particularly interested in the period from the end of the Balkan Wars to the Asia Minor Disaster, which is currently one of the main subjects of my work.


I discovered computers back in 1979, while I was a third-year chemical engineering student at the University of Karlsruhe (today KIT) in Germany. While still in Greece, I had passed the national exams for university entrance and had been admitted at the NTUA Topography School, eventually though I preferred to go abroad to study chemical engineering. Not that I had any idea whatever about what exactly I wanted to study... But after taking into account that the chemical engineering school was most prestigious, requiring the highest grades in order to be admitted, and on the other hand the fact that both the status and the level of studies of German universities were not comparable to those in Greece, I was driven to this decision. After all, as a graduate of the German School of Athens, I had the advantage of speaking the language.

In those years, microcomputers were still not widely available. The computers of the time - the so-called mainframes - occupied entire rooms, with their mysterious magnetic tapes continuously whirling back and forth and their printers endlessly spewing folded sheets of paper. Programming and communication with them was carried out mainly through punched tapes and cards, and for the lucky ones through primitive terminals with monochrome displays. It was in an environment like this where I and a friend of mine began the creation of a chess-playing program in the Fortran language, by using «borrowed» user names and passwords, since we were not allowed to use the computer for such endeavours.

Of course our plans turned out to be overly optimistic, since this program never materialized. In the meantime though I did gain some experience in using the computer, and indeed soon a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Soil Mechanics became aware of me and asked me to help him with the computational part of his work. I accepted and thus earned my first money out of programming, and sure enough I continued to work with people from that department for several years to come.

Naturally, easy money from programming was like sweet candy to me, and as a result my studies started to lag behind. Indeed from 1981 onwards, when I got my first computer - an Apple] [+ -, I was spending all my time at it, exploring its possibilities. I was definitely addicted, but at the same time I was gaining a great deal of experience as well as a reputation as a programming expert. Thus I got my second job at a tech firm near Frankfurt, subcontractors of the German automobile industry, where we created simulators and real-time applications for VW, Opel and BMW. At the same time, I kept experimenting with my personal computer, writing programs in Basic, Pascal and machine language, but also «breaking» and then playing various computer games of the time.

In 1985 I began cooperating with an acquaintance of mine, an architect and contractor. Together we developed an application in Turbo Pascal aimed at consulting firms and public services that covered the field of «Task list creation - Bid evaluation - Project monitoring»,  which soon managed to gain quite a large market share. By now I had switched to an IBM PC, which allowed me to experiment with various operating systems, programming languages and applications, and also write a number of utility programs myself. That period came to an end with my return to Greece in 1993. In the meantime I had managed to complete my studies, admittedly with some toil.

Back in Greece, after a short rehab/detox period, I joined forces with Aluminum of Greece, at first as a network administrator and subsequently as a computer analyst / programmer, working in Delphi and Lotus Notes environments. There I developed a variety of applications, the most important of which was the company's Document Management System, which, despite my exit from the company in 2013, remains still operational. During that time I met my future wife, we got married and we had two sons.


As a child I never felt an urge to write. Barring school essays, my first contact with writing was as one of the three «journalists » of the newspaper in our high school class, a paper with the inflammatory title «THE CHAOS». There we made fun of various situations and persons, chiefly of ourselves. Issued at irregular intervals, our newspaper was bought and read not just by our classmates, but by almost everyone in school. Indeed, its publication continued for some time in Germany, where many of us have been studying, with topics from our student life there.

My school essays were good, albeit a bit peculiar - or perhaps sui generis. In any case, presumably the graders did not in the slightest appreciate my essay at the university entrance exams, since they rated it well below the passing grade. So, although I did very well in the remaining subjects, I just managed to be admitted at the NTUA Topography School, not at the faculty of my preference. This resulted in my leaving Greece.

In Germany, I was so absorbed by computers, that aside from one or two failed attempts at science fiction short stories, I didn't write anything at all. Only after the demise of my grandfather Stamatis Hadjiyiannis in 1990 did I feel the urge to digitise and edit his memoirs, covering his participation in World War I and the Asia Minor Campaign. After finishing, I printed four copies on a computer printer and distributed them to the family. I plan, however, to re-edit the memoirs, consolidate the more than thirty manuscript versions, and publish them in book form.

One of the books that left its mark on me was Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza's «The History and Geography of Human Genes». There, an attempt is made to trace prehistoric periods, or even historical periods for which there is insufficient evidence, through differences in gene distribution across 1,800 population groups worldwide. In this way Cavalli-Sforza recreates a «history» of human movements through the ages. But since, as the author points out, surnames are inherited in a similar way as genes, around 2004 I had the idea of using surnames from telephone directories to research the origins of dwellers of various parts of Greece. For this, the etymology of the surnames and their classification into purely Greek, or Albanian, Slavic, Turkish, etc., would be helpful. With computer assistance, I have been involved in this gigantic project for a while. But in the end this turned out to be beyond my power, so I had to give it up.

Following my grandfather's memoirs, in 2008-10 my interest in personal mini-histories prompted me to undertake the editing of George Miniotis’ remembrances about his activity during the German occupation of Greece. Due to various unforeseen events, the book was finally released just in 2018.

At school, my relationship with the Ancient Greek language could not be considered ideal. The only two areas where I was good at were etymology and the translation of unknown ancient Greek texts - the last one because all texts, even the ones that had already been taught, were of course completely unfamiliar to me! At times my interest in words peaked. Indeed, on one occasion, at the Karlsruhe State Library, I photocopied the entire Indo-Germanic Etymological Dictionary (1,200 pages!) by Julius Pokorny, so that I could study it in privacy at home. My love for words - their etymology and their history - was the reason why in 2010 I decided to be involved in a project concerning the dialect of Smyrna, which eventually resulted in the Smyrneika Lexicon.

Ultimately, however, it seems that no one can avoid one’s fate. Although I initially managed to stay away from topography, my involvement with Smyrna in recent years, in addition to the publication of «The Smyrna Quay» and «Leon & Emine», also resulted in the creation of maps - Smyrna maps of course, what else? This is how the «Smyrna -İzmir» map was born, as well as the «Smyrna - 1922 Travellers Guide», which contains an abundance of maps too.