It wasn't too long ago that I might have seen images like this and taken them to be historically accurate.
Behold the Automatic Man!
I mean, it looks authentic right? Especially when it appears on a website detailing the complicated history of The Automatic Man's creation. If you visit The Gallery of Victorian Robots you can read all about how this glorious automaton dragged carriages through the streets with his impressive strength in 1900. I personally think his most impressive strength is his ability to look exactly like Daniel Day Lewis's character in There Will Be Blood.
In any case, one might believe this invention to be real, so real in fact, that they might actually post it on a blog as truth. Which, I'll be honest, was what I did! I got Steampunk'd! I actually believed that this thing existed! Thank goodness a kind reader pointed out my mistake before too many people saw my blunder. It was a surreal experience frought at first with mortification, followed by fascination. I mean, yes, it's horrifying to find out that you have believed a completely made-up invention to be real, but at the same time, I was impressed. Who are these people that create "alternate histories" and merge the modern day world with that of Jules Verne and Victrolas? I don't think it's all about tricking people into believing fake machines existed. It seems to be an entire artistic endeavor. To get a sense of what I'm talking about, here are some amazing Steampunk creations...
Steampunk USB Drive
Notice the wind-up key to start it! You can see the laptop in greater detail here.
Okay, that last picture is just an actual bicycle, but it looks like something that's been touched with the Steampunk wand.
The Steampunk world has infiltrated the realms of speculative fiction, graphic novels, Burning Man installations, and even everyday transportation as seen here with my personal favorite, the Steampunk Motorbike.
I love that people out there will mod anything they can get their hands on! There seems to be a spectrum, too. Like, you might be a little Steampunk if you wear typewriter key jewelry, but you're hardcore if you're like this crew who played renegade croquet, in full costume, in an abandonded Packard factory! Those are my kind of people! Committed! Does the train from Back to the Future III count as Steampunk? I don't know. I'm still learning.