Anestis Fraganestis

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Chthon - an amazing experience

Chthon was for me a really wonderful adventure; an amazing experience that coincided with some of the best years of my life, and to some considerable degree, it shaped them and made them even better. It was somewhere around the autumn of 1994, when me and two other students of the university of Thessaloniki accepted the offer and challenge of a daring businessman. He wanted us to help him transform his encyclopedia in digital form. It was going to be the first digital encyclopedia in Greece.

Very soon a company was created. It was named Chthon. The name provoked laughs and protests, mainly because many people could not pronounce it easily, but as it turned out the name actually made quite an impression. A few months later a forth partner was added to the previous three, and Chthon acquired its final formation.

Chthon actually managed, against the predictions of the knowledgeable, to create the first Greek digital encyclopedia and, by most accounts, the best and most successful. Other products followed, like a dictionary, teaching aids and the first 3D Greek program, a world atlas in 3D. They were successful to varying degrees.

I had there, for the first time, the opportunity to work in a software project as a member of a team. And what a team it was! I think all three of my associates were (and still are) brilliant. But more than the satisfaction of producing a few successful products, what the Chthon experience gave me was the chance to work with some fine minds and fine people. Chthon was operating in a rather anarchic model. Each of the four associates had the power of veto on everything. Even more than that, the offices were used largely as place where other interesting people gathered, to enjoy a conversation, a few cigarettes or a few drinks. As time went by Cthon had gathered an actual following of rather diverse kind; students of medicine, musicians, occultists... All these in the offices of a software company! The conversations were amazing; heated some times. The subjects were as varying as the collocutors: mathematics, philosophy, music, religion, ethics, books, open source software, software piracy... Nothing was considered out of reach or uninteresting.

All in all I think the years in Chthon were certainly the second best, if not the best, period of my life.
For all these, I thank my luck, and I thank Babis, Panos, Tasos and all those that participated in their way in that company.
As an old Irish song goes..
"Here 's a health to the company".

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