Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Nerds unite at MIT Swapfest

Filed under
Misc

"All Things Nerdly" is the unofficial slogan of the MIT Swapfest, a monthly electronics flea market at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"That's not meant to be derogatory," said Steve Finberg, who helped found the "Flea at MIT" 21 years ago. "Nerdy is a compliment for most of these people."

Every third Sunday from April through October, hundreds of technophiles gather in a Cambridge parking lot to pick through piles of electronic equipment -- everything from antique computers and ham radios to spectrophotometers and oscilloscopes.

Vendors begin assembling around midnight to secure prime spots in the lot. When the market opens at 9 a.m., buyers scurry inside to scout the choicest bargains.

Mark Peck, 14, spent $20 to add a banged-up Apple II Plus to his growing collection of old Apple computers.

Mark has more than a dozen computers on display in his family's Newton home. His father, Shel, said his son gives school groups tours of the Apple "museum."

"This one is a find," Shel Peck said of the Apple II Plus. "It's like finding a Rembrandt in a flea market."

The MIT flea market isn't the largest of its kind, but its setting on the campus of an elite technical school makes it a destination for people from around New England.

The flea market is run by the Harvard Wireless Club, the MIT Electronics Research Society, the MIT UHF Repeater Association and the MIT Radio Society, a club for ham radio operators that dates back to 1909.

Finberg, who works as an engineer at a MIT-affiliated laboratory, said school officials initially weren't sold on the flea market.

"One of the deans thought it was much too commercial," he said. "And then that dean went away."

Today, Swapfest is as much a social event as a marketplace for electronics equipment.

Marcellus Stamps, a self-described "high-tech recycler" who sells used office computers at flea markets all over New England, sees many of the same faces wherever he and his wife go.

Stamps, a newly retired computer consultant, isn't in it for the money.

"We cover our costs, and I make enough to take my wife to dinner," he said.

Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: Software

  • OVS 2.6 and The First Release of OVN
    In January of 2015, the Open vSwitch team announced that they planned to start a new project within OVS called OVN (Open Virtual Network). The timing could not have been better for me as I was looking around for a new project. I dove in with a goal of figuring out whether OVN could be a promising next generation of Open vSwitch integration for OpenStack and have been contributing to it ever since. OVS 2.6.0 has now been released which includes the first non-experimental version of OVN. As a community we have also built integration with OpenStack, Docker, and Kubernetes.
  • RcppCNPy 0.2.6
  • Markoshiki
  • gcbd 0.2.6
    A pure maintenance release 0.2.6 of the gcbd package is now on CRAN. The gcbd proposes a benchmarking framework for LAPACK and BLAS operations (as the library can exchanged in a plug-and-play sense on suitable OSs) and records result in local database. Recent / upcoming changes to DBMI and RSQLite let me to update the package; there are no actual functionality changes in this release.
  • Udisks Indicator Makes Monitoring and Mounting Drives Easy on Ubuntu
    Want to get quick, at-a-glance details about your connected drives while on Ubuntu? A new indicator applet aims to help. UDisks-Indicator is a small panel-based applet that shows disk usage information about mounted partitions.
  • Skype for Linux Alpha 1.9 released with dark theme support and more
    Microsoft today released a new update of Skype for Linux users. Skype for Linux Alpha 1.9 comes with dark theme support, the ability to mute notifications and more. Read the full change log below.
  • Open source tool uses PowerShell to enable vSphere infrastructure as code [Ed: Microsoft ‘open’ code already being used to promote proprietary software with back doors]

PostgreSQL 9.6 Released

  • PostgreSQL 9.6 released
    PostgreSQL 9.6, the latest version of the world's leading open source database, was released today by the PostgreSQL Global Development Group. This release will allow users to both scale up and scale out high performance database workloads. New features include parallel query, synchronous replication improvements, phrase search, and improvements to performance and usability, as well as many more features.
  • PostgreSQL 9.6 Officially Released With Parallel Query Support

How I Use Android: Android Central Editor Emeritus Phil Nickinson

In the meantime, I was able to convince Phil to step out of his metaphorical kitchen for a few minutes to chat about how he uses Android in his day-to-day life. This is a man who has seen and used practically every Android device over the past several years, after all -- and a fair number of apps and customization tools, to boot. So what devices does someone with so much knowledge carry around in his own trousers, and how does he make the most of what they have to offer? Enough with the suspense already. In his own words, this is how Phil Nickinson uses Android. Read more

Best Android Phones Under 5.7 Inches

There's no question that Samsung hit a home run with its Galaxy S7 line. We already think the smaller GS7 is the best phone under 5.2 inches, and the larger, curved-screen Galaxy S7 edge is our pick for the best phone under 5.7 inches. Why? It takes everything we love about the smaller phone and makes it bigger — but not too much. Read more