Author Topic: Steven L FINBERG, W1GSL, SK  (Read 2056 times)

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Offline W1RC

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Steven L FINBERG, W1GSL, SK
« on: April 26, 2021, 05:56:25 AM »
It is with deep sadness and regret that I report the passing of Steve Finberg, W1GSL, of Cambridge Massachusetts, the founder and Benevolent Dictator of the ?Swapfest, the Flea at M.I.T.?  who became a Silent Key on Friday, April 23rd 2021 just before 7:00 PM.

Steve started the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology electronics flea market in 1985 and ran it up continuously until October 2019.  That was 35 years, 8 shows a year, always the third Sunday of the month, April through October.  The only time it was canceled was April 2013 after the Boston Marathon bombing.  An outstanding accomplishment!   ?The Flea? produced many amazing treasures over the years, things you would find nowhere else.  You never know what you will find at ?M.I.T.?, an event that was highly popular with amateur radio operators and electronics enthusiasts in the Northeast.  ?Chip? Cohen, W1YW, inventor of the fractal antenna said that he bought all the test equipment and parts he needed at the M.I.T. Swapfest to invent his revolutionary antennas when he was first starting out.

Steve was a long-time analog electronics engineer at Charles Stark "Doc" Draper's lab at MIT and the holder of several patents.  He was still working at Draper Labs at the time of his passing.  Steve was an intensely private man and not much is known about his life outside of his work at Draper and M.I.T. I know he would probably not approve of all this attention but the fact that he was so high profile and popular at most amateur radio hamfests and flea markets in the eastern United States makes it necessary.

In addition to his work with The Swapfest, he also compiled and produced the bi-weekly New England Flea Market list for over 30 years.  He was a very familiar figure in his signature red sports shirt and straw cowboy hat at hamfests anf flea markets for many years all over the east coast and as far south as Orlando FL distributing his famous list along with the Flea at M.I.T. promotional flyers.

Steve was a personal friend for many years and was a knowledgeable source of information on New England hamfests and electronic flea markets.  His deep wisdom, advice and wise counsel were invaluable to me when we started the New England Amateur Radio Festival, aka NEAR-Fest at Deerfield NH, in 2007.

In 2009, Steve was awarded the NEAR-Fest Lifetime Pass Award for his contribution to the advancement of the hobby in New England.

https://www.telegram.com/entertainmentlife/20161004/mits-flea-market-specializes-in-rare-obscure-electronics

Unfortunately, there were no M.I.T. flea markets in 2020 and it doesn?t seem there will be very many or possibky none this year as well.  However, the radio clubs at M.I.T. and Harvard University, (the MIT Radio Society,  the MIT UHF Repeater Association, the MIT Electronics Research Society and the Harvard Wireless Club) beneficiaries of the ?Flea? since the beginning will be resuming the event as soon as conditions allow it.   First one is tentatively scheduled for August 15th 2021.  The Web site is

https://w1mx.mit.edu/flea-at-mit/

Definitely the end of an era.  Thank you Steve for all those wonderful fleas and the lists.

May he rest in peace.

73,

Michael Crestohl, W1RC/VE2XL,
?Mister Mike?,
Benevolent Dictator,
New England Amateur Radio Festival,
aka ?NEAR-Fest? at Deerfield NH

Offline DrOptigan

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Re: Steven L FINBERG, W1GSL, SK
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2021, 04:38:27 PM »
Sad news for all of us in the swapmeet community. Steve was a fixture at all of the swapmeets in the area since long before I started attending them, I'm sure. The MIT Swaps were as reliable as he was; the only one I can recall getting cancelled was following the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 and its "shelter in place" order, but other than that, they went on like clockwork before this cursed pandemic hit. Hopefully, there will be others to continue his excellent work with the Swapfest, as well as the wonderful event list which he curated and distributed along with the famous Flyers. RIP, Steve.
-Adam

Offline W1RC

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Re: Steven L FINBERG, W1GSL, SK
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2021, 05:02:51 PM »
You are correct Adam.  I recall now that the Flea was cancelled in April. 2013 because of the Marathon bombing just a week prior.

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Re: Steven L FINBERG, W1GSL, SK
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2021, 09:53:55 AM »
I received the followimg email drom Stu W1PTH who was friends with Steve sixty years agomwhen they were neighbours in Philadelphia.......

Hi Mike

           My name is Stu, W2PTH from Cherry Hill NJ. I was just looking through eHam.net and ran across an article you wrote. I was absolutely shocked to read about the passing of Steven Finberg. I've known for several years that he was living in Mass. and working at MIT.....but that's about it. I was "shocked"......for the following reasons. I grew up with Steve in Northeast Philadelphia. We knew each other from grade school and he lived right across the street from me. I was at 1045 Levick St. and he was at 1048. I was KN3RGQ and Steve was KN3QGQ. Being Jewish, Steve was also at my Bar Mitzvah in 1962 and is also included in the photo album. I also remember that he had a sister.   

           Steves first station consisted of an HRO receiver with LARGE plug in coils and the transmitter was a converted ARC-5. I still have the 1961 copy of the ARRL Handbook that he used to get the circuit for the power supply for the ARC-5. I've always been very nostalgic and there are some parts of my life that I just don't forget. I guess there are also parts that I should forget.     

           The last time I saw Steve was in 1962 at my Bar Mitzvah. In summer,1962 we moved to Cherry Hill NJ when I started High School. I sent him an email many years ago but never received a reply. As fate would have it, I travel to Boston occasionally to visit my daughter and granddaughter who live in Needham. We were just there in May for my granddaughters 7th birthday. 

           I do remember that Steve was a very smart guy and did very well in school. It's not at all surprising that he went on to become an engineer and end up working at MIT. I'm attaching a photo of Steve's entry in the Fall 1961 Callbook. It's amazing what you can find on the internet.

           That's about it. I just felt that I wanted to send you a little note after reading your article. By the way, Steve was also my very first contact as a ham. It was a pre-arranged CW contact and I was using my fathers signal generator as a transmitter...LOL. He probably would have shot me if he knew at the time. My father was an electrical engineer at RCA in Camden NJ and he always wanted me to get into radio. Actually, I ended up in aircraft repair, because of the Air Force, Vietnam, etc, and continued in that line of work for 35 years. I'm 72 now and retired since 2007. Now a days I spend a lot of my time with a great girlfriend, following the stock market and, of course, ham radio. I'm very active on SSTV on 14.230 and have been since 1976. I have a few pictures of the station on QRZ.com. I hope that through this little note I've enlightened you at least a but about Steve.

best regard's,  Stuart Ruben   W2PTH     Cherry Hill NJ.