Clockpunk Difference Engine

One of the unexplored ideas (as far as I know) in Clockpunk is the absence of a Clockwork Difference Engine. Given that people in Greece as far back as the first century B.C had the technology to build devices like the Antikythera Mechanism, the possibility of an earlier Difference Engine exists. Imagine a difference engine build by the great master himself – Leonardo’s Difference Engine. I may be writing a short story on it soon, so stay tuned.

6 Responses to “Clockpunk Difference Engine”


  1. 1 sssss March 10, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Bruce Sterling and William Gibson wrote a book called “The Difference Engine” that imagines the machining precision necessary to create large, functional difference engines was available in 1885. It includes all sorts of ways that computing could/would have affected the industrial revolution, the American civil war, English politics and, of course, other technology. 1885 ain’t the first century BC, but it’s a good read.

  2. 2 Sean March 10, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    The Antikythera Device is a great McGuffin, across the board. a bit with that myself, a while back.

  3. 3 Da Vinci Automata March 11, 2007 at 2:20 am

    sssss: Yeah, actually I had that novel in mind when I did the post about clockpunk difference engine.

  4. 4 irisclara March 12, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle talks about Leibniz’s Logic Mill which was a pre-Difference Engine clockwork computer. I don’t know if it was ever actually built. How do the 1660’s fit into the clockpunk theme?

  5. 5 Da Vinci Automata March 12, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    irisclara, Thanks for pointing out Leibniz’s Logic Mill. I will look into it soon. 1660s may be a bit too late given that the Renaissance is usually taken to span from the 14th to the 16th century, plus or minus hundreds years may be acceptable to some extent.


  1. 1 Clockpunk Difference Engine « The Curio Trackback on March 11, 2007 at 5:46 am

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