The ideas behind the steampunk sci-fi subgenre have been around since Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, but it was given its moniker in the late '80s as a speculative-fiction genre, alongside cyberpunk, ribofunk and splatterpunk. While the others peer 15 minutes into the future, steampunk envisions a future that has collapsed onto a re-imagined Victorian past. Steam and clockworks replace silicon logic, brass and copper stand in for titanium and plastic, and airships replace spaceships.
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technologies like the computer but developed earlier in an alternate history.
Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" for such technology as dirigibles, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage's Analytical engine and Difference engine.
Steampunk is often associated with cyberpunk. They have considerable influence on each other and share a similar fan base, but steampunk developed as a separate movement. Apart from time period and level of technology, the main difference is that steampunk settings tend to be less dystopian.
Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.