Steampunk: Reclaiming Tech for the Masses

Why steampunk is the subculture of the moment

Sean Masterson

A fan shows off a steampunk costume at Comic-Con in San Diego.

In 1822 the English Mathematician Charles Babbage had an idea for a machine that would perform mathematical calculations rapidly and infallibly. This was long before the age of electrical circuitry, so Babbage's plan called for the machine to be executed in brass and steel and powered by a hand crank. If it had been completed, his Difference Engine would have been a magnificent beast, requiring 25,000 parts and weighing about 15 tons. But he ran out of money and patience and had to abandon it unfinished.

Now imagine if Babbage hadn't abandoned it. Fork the timeline. Imagine if computing technology had...

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