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Ten 19th century steampunk tech mods

Gadgets in polished hardwood & intricate cast iron

Sometimes it's hard to describe modern technology as 'beautiful', especially when you consider the technology that was built in the early 1900s.

Today's sleek beige boxes and flat black screens can't hold a candle (or a gaslight) to the polished hardwood, intricate cast iron, and careful craftsmanship of the Victorian era.

Today, a handful of gifted artisans are taking hammer and blowtorch in hand to correct the imbalance between function and form, turning their PCs, keyboards, MP3 players, and mobile phones into unique works of art that recall the aesthetic sensibilities of a bygone era.

We look at 10 of the best.

Datamancer computational engine

With its fine wooden craftsmanship, mantel clock, and Underwood keyboard, this computational engine would hardly seem out of place in a respectable, middle-class home circa 1900.

And note the vertically mounted, transparent optical drive below the monitor.

"Celebrate the historical heritage of the modern Personal Computer...the way it should have been," proclaims its maker, the Datamancer (aka Rich Nagy).

Regrettably, the Computational Engine no longer exists as the functioning Windows XP PC it once was.

Nagy dismantled it prior to a cross-country move, and it has been sitting in storage for the past year and a half. He's currently working on an improved version.

A former web designer, the Datamancer is now a full-time, professional commission artist.

Photo: Courtesy of Richard Nagy of Datamancer.net

Datamancer steampunk laptop

With its wooden body, claw feet, copper keyboard, and elaborate display of clockwork under glass, this laptop isn't an ideal candidate for slipping into your flight bag and carrying through airport security. Its weight is traveller-unfriendly, too.

Built around a HP ZT1000, and running both Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux, the laptop sports leather wrist pads, engraved brass accents, and an antique clock-winding key in place of the usual, boring On button.

The user is supposed to shut down the Steampunk Laptop with a feather. Watch this video for a demonstration of this most civilised way to boot up and shut down.

Photo: Courtesy of Richard Nagy of Datamancer.net

NEXT PAGE: Datamancer ergo keyboard and Mavrovic mobile phone

  1. Introduction
  2. Datamancer ergo keyboard and Mavrovic mobile phone
  3. The Steampunk Workshop all-in-one PC and hinged monitor
  4. The Friedrich ambience enhancer and Friedrich Commodore 64 base unit
  5. Van der Graffe pocket watch USB drive and tooled leather roll-top PC


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