Friday, June 1, 2012

Charles Babbage was the first steampunk

A steampunk in costume
Steampunk, Wikipedia says, is a "genre which originated during the 1980s and early 1990s and incorporates elements of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, horror, and speculative fiction. It involves a setting where steam power is widely used—whether in an alternate history such as Victorian era Britain or "Wild West"-era United States, or in a post-apocalyptic time —that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy."
   The Steampunk World's Fair was recently held in Piscataway, New Jersey, USA and had over 4,000 attendees. Of course the real steampunk was Charles Babbage, who features in Chapter 2, "The dawn of Computing," of The Universal Machine. Babbage actually tried to build a mechanical computer - the Analytical Engine. Although Babbage never managed to build his Engine the people at Plan 28 intend to complete his design and build a working mechanical computer.
A model of part of the Analytical Engine