Business: Market
Victorian Technology Today   (+9, -4)  [vote for, against]
Making today’s consumables using obsolete technology

A firm builds fully functional 21st century products, but instead of employing technology such as modern plastics, microchips and electronics, everything is realised in technologies available to the Victorians. Materials would consist largely of wood, brass, steel and (if you’re really up-to-date) Bakelite.

Truly modern methods would be used in the actual construction so as to enjoy the benefits of the latest fabrication techniques i.e. precision parts, computer design etc, but the objects themselves would operate on purely mechanical principals.

Possible products in the catalogue might include:
Mechanical Calculator
Clockwork Hi-Fi
Air-pressure and pipe-controlled computer
Mechanical tone dialler

(or variations thereof)

The items would be fully functional, if a little slow, but would be of the best build quality and perhaps appeal to those of us who like to be able to look inside something to get a vague idea of how it works.
-- zen_tom, Jul 17 2004

Mechanical Calculator
One possible product for the catalogue [zen_tom, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

google: steam punk
Sounds like the 'Steampunk' genre. [Laughs Last, Oct 05 2004, last modified Nov 28 2004]

One example http://www.halfbake...pewriter_20computer
[angel, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Another http://www.halfbake...etro_20Cell_20Phone
[angel, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

another mechanical calculator
[po, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Retro mobile phone
Handsfree kits for Nokia phones made from old handsets. [wagster, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Not quite what I mean but closer
[gnomethang, Oct 05 2004]

Taschenrechner Addiator
In this link, click on the Addiator Image, then scroll to the bottom row on the result page to see the Taschenrechner, the very last image on the right. [jurist, Oct 05 2004]

More addiators
Thanks for the tip, Jurist. [Ling, Oct 05 2004]

Tom Thumb
This is the one that I remember. Click on the thumbnails for a larger image. The instruction manuals are available. [Ling, Oct 05 2004]

Steam-Powered Pencil Sharpener http://www.halfbake...0pencil_20sharpener
Unnecessary Usage of Steam = Victorian Technology Today [plus shameless Churn] [zen_tom, Oct 27 2004]

Antique recording technology lives! http://www.edisonnj...k/recordingproject/
Famous voices recorded for posterity on Edison wax cylinders. [TD3, Oct 28 2004]

History of mechanical calculators http://www.xnumber....ber/mechanical1.htm
Lots of info on mechanical calculator history [TD3, Oct 29 2004]

Boing Boing's steampunk archive.
Lots of steam punk goodies. [DrBob, Dec 19 2008]

Spintronics: Build mechanical circuits https://www.kicksta...mechanical-circuits
[xaviergisz, Nov 20 2021]

Steampunk Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers And Camera https://steampunkte...peakers-and-camera/
So this sort of thing, right? It's a thing. [Ander, Nov 28 2021]

Upgrade everything, and this is the thanks we get.
-- dpsyplc, Jul 17 2004

I distantly remember my father using a mechanical calculator, but it was a different type. It was a flat design, and a pen-like pointer was used to move some sliders about. That's all I remember, but I have never seen or heard of one since. Has anyone come across one of these?
-- Ling, Jul 18 2004

Yes, but only from the distant recesses of my memory. I think it's one of these things that got left behind in a house move when I was small. There was a metal stylus and ten vertical sliders.
-- wagster, Jul 18 2004

I have this strange dream of a shed in the back garden housing a Babbage engine with an ethernet interface.
-- orac, Jul 18 2004

No, [Tread], I remember what [ling] and [wagster] are talking about. I cannot find a link at the moment but was about 8" tall and 3 wide with small columns with crenellated slider for use with the stylus. I seem to recall that it could add and subtract easily but a tweak could make it multiply.
-- gnomethang, Aug 31 2004

It may be the Taschenrechner Addiator. Taschenrechner literally means pocket calculator in German. <link>
-- jurist, Aug 31 2004

Thanks, [jurist]. Thems the kiddies!
-- gnomethang, Sep 01 2004

A slide rule is what I use. Does that means I'm Victorian?. Gee, am I young then ! . Bun.
-- finflazo, Sep 01 2004

You found it [Ling]! I'm not sure the one I had was a 'Tom Thumb' - but it looked like the piccy.
-- wagster, Oct 27 2004

I know somebody who is recording famous/ historical voices for posterity on Edison wax recording cylinders. There are many reasons behind the project but one is that Edison cylinders are the longest lived audio recording medium known so far.

Longevity predictions about CDs & DVDs are just that, predictions.
-- TD3, Oct 28 2004

And stone tablets are the longest-lived writing medium.
-- bristolz, Oct 28 2004

Same medium, no?
-- bristolz, Oct 28 2004

stone tablets are just portable cave walls...cell-walls if you will.
-- zen_tom, Oct 28 2004

Got your point about stone walls, but wasn't the originator of this idea focusing on late 19th century tech? Get into stone this & that and your going to have something like that awful "Flinstones" movie a few years back.
-- TD3, Oct 29 2004

How's about some veloceped bicycles, four on the floor skates, windmills, phongraphs, quality crystal-set radios, and some good old fashioned victorian hand tools.

Do you folks have any idea how hard it is to get a heavy duty hand-powered auger-style drill these days?

Washboards and the likes might also be appropriate.

You may also find a market for sextants, theolodites, transits, and heliographs.

I'll be glad to see things made to the highest quality. However, I disagree with you calling them consumables.

Consumables are meant to be used up. Quality tools, like those of yesteryear differ from modern products in that they were meant to be used indefinitely, rather than being meant to suffer from planned obsolescence, and intentional defects that lead to short effetive lifespans.

Remember the days when the technological revolution could still boast about interchangeable parts? Ever seen a cell phone that could use the battery from your old cell phone?
-- ye_river_xiv, Dec 19 2008

Yes, I have.
-- Spacecoyote, Dec 19 2008

If cellphones and the like were made to the highest quality which generally costs the most, then we'd still be walking around with walkie-talkie sized devices attached to car batteries.

And despite feeling that I should be running an old VAX under VMS, this 10 year old piece of junk does me fine for the penny-ante uses I have for it.

But yes, I like the feeling (of thinking) that I'm able to fix it if something goes wrong, that goes along with gross mechanical devices.
-- FlyingToaster, Dec 19 2008

//If cellphones and the like were made to the highest quality which generally costs the most, then we'd still be walking around with walkie-talkie sized devices attached to car batteries.//

Isn't practicality part of quality?
-- Spacecoyote, Dec 19 2008

Point-to-point networking using overhead wires and little catapulted carts?
-- coprocephalous, Dec 19 2008

//Mechanical Calculator//
<anecdote> Some years ago, I read a sci-fi novel in which aliens had rendered all electronics inoperable. So, Babbage's idea of a mechanical computer was used, but taken to the "n- th" degree: nano-scale, working to the level of current portable computers. IIRC, they were referred to as "Babbages". </a>
-- neutrinos_shadow, Nov 21 2021

Spintronics looks amazing
-- pocmloc, Nov 21 2021

//Babbage's idea of a mechanical computer was used, but taken to the "n- th" degree: nano-scale, working to the level of current portable computers.//

You may enjoy The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi. Part of the background is that things are powered by very small springs. Aside from that it's an awesome story. I just wish it was loved for its awesome story-telling instead of the fact that the author agrees with liberal politics.
-- Voice, Nov 22 2021

random, halfbakery