A different type of mechanical engineering

03/10/2017
 
A real-life example of a machine similar to those inspired by steampunk is the mechanical computer model designed by Charles Babbage.
A real-life example of a machine similar to those inspired by steampunk is the mechanical computer model designed by Charles Babbage.
The invention of electricity was a huge influence on the development of the country and its technology.  Just before electricity, many machines were powered by steam. 
 
The early 19th century saw the later years of the Industrial Revolution, which began in 1760 with inventions that allowed for faster, more efficient processing of iron.  Soon after came the invention of the steam engine and subsequent variations.  Steam engine trains led the ultimate settling of the Wild West.  Around the end of the Industrial Revolution the Victorian era began.  As a result of the new era coinciding with the settlements, Victorian-style houses can still be found in many western towns today.
 
A steampunk-inspired typewriter has a style typical of the imagined world.
A steampunk-inspired typewriter has a style typical of the imagined world.
Steampunk picks up around this time, when Victorian style was becoming the fashion and steam power ran the country’s machines.  Steampunk is the science fiction-based fantasy of a world in which electricity was never invented.  It has a distinct culture influenced by the Victorian clothes and customs of the time, and an appearance heavily based in early 19th-century machinery.  Gear systems, huge boilers, pipe systems, and several different metals are all common features of steampunk images.  There are all sorts of inventions and ideas for equipment, weapons, etc. that run on steam.
 
The ornithopter is a simple flying machine that has a system of gears that drive its flapping wings. The pilot provides the power through pedals similar to those on a bicycle.
The ornithopter is a simple flying machine that has a system of gears that drive its flapping wings. The pilot provides the power through pedals similar to those on a bicycle.
What’s interesting about steampunk is the amount of mechanics and simple machine mechanisms involved.  The analytical engine model, proposed by mechanical engineer Charles Babbage, is a good example of a real-life invention similar to those inspired by steampunk.  Basically a mechanical computer, his machine theoretically had logic and memory and could perform calculations. 
 
For steampunk transportation, steam engine trains and cars are popular as well as flying machines called ornithopters that have flapping wings.  Steampunk especially loves the airship.  In the realm of this fantasy world airships have evolved to become a successful, efficient mode of travel, while sailing and steam ships are a thing of the past.
 
For those interested in imagining worlds where other forms of technology took over, dieselpunk focuses on diesel-based technology from the world wars and 1950s, and cyberpunk imagines a world that revolves around computers.