The Victorian era may be too late for SCA, but we medievalists can certainly appreciate the desire to build an anachronistic world, and the artistic creative impulse behind the steampunk laptop. Steampunk enthusiasts envision a world in which mechanical power sources from the Age of Steam drive dirigibles, ray guns, and calculating devices with a modern theoretical basis. In a sense, steampunk is a fantasy within an anachronism, like the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, only a few decades earlier in time, or like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
The outer lid features a minutely detailed brass clockwork behind a glass panel, so that it appears the computer runs on gears and flywheels. Its power switch is a brass "winding key." Accented with elaborate brass fittings and claw feet, the wooden enclosure conceals a fully-functional Hewlett-Packard ZT1000 laptop computer dual-booting between Ubuntu Linux and Windows XP.
In addition to the photo album of the completed device (see "original article" link below), the author has posted a tutorial on making the brass faceplate and a blog-like project diary. There is also a video of the laptop in action, posted on YouTube.
Hieronymus Isambard "Jake" von Slatt has published numerous other articles on his steampunk projects, including a flat panel monitor, clockwork jewelry made from etched brass, and a telegraph key that clicks out RSS news feeds from the Internet. His work has been featured in Wired, Popular Science, and Newsweek magazines.
Thanks to Baron Conal O'hAirt and Lady Faoileann inghean Tighearnaigh, both from the Midrealm, for forwarding the link to this fascinating project.