Divergence refers to the point at which the Fallout setting has separated from the real world timeline, becoming the retro-futuristic setting we all know and love. For the implications of the divergence, see the Fallout setting and Fallout world articles.
The exact point of divergence has been intentionally left vague, though it is known that it has separated sometime after World War II. However, one can argue that the divergence happened sporadically throughout history, e.g. in the several cases of Zetan abductions, or existence of the ancient city of Ubar. And also distinctly human things like corporations existing before divergence, such as The Whitespring (instead of the Greenbrier) being constructed in 1858 and the Sunset Sarsaparilla Company being founded in 1918. That said, the divergence did not mean that the United States developed across completely different lines: For example, the 1960s counter-culture movement that popularized the term "Hippie" did occur.
- Fallout Bible 6: "3. What was U.S./world history like before the timeline included in previous Fallout updates?"
"No one has asked this yet, but I thought I would cut this question off at the pass. Fallout takes place on a future earth, in an alternate timeline. I will not be including any information on how and when it diverged - it will remain one of the mysteries of the setting. Just let it be known that it diverged after WW2, and leave it at that."
- Etymology of Hippie on Wikipedia
- Certain residents of Megaton in Fallout 3 occasionally utter the phrase, "Don't let them fool you with their hippie crap"; graffiti on the outside of the Hidden Valley bunker in Fallout: New Vegas; the hippie commune present before the Great War in Hopeville and Ashton.
- The Lone Wanderer: "You voted for governor? How does that work?"
Jack Smith: "The adults walked right on down to the polling location and dropped ballots into the box. How do you think it works? Yessir, it's every American's civic duty to cast his vote for his favorite Republican candidate. Am I right?"
The Lone Wanderer: "So who did you vote for?"
Jack Smith: "Now, now, my vote is my business and no one else's. But I'll tell you one thing: we didn't vote for any beatnik liberal commies, that's for sure."
(Jack Smith's dialogue)