Aperture Science is a fictitious company in the Half Life universe in which Portal and Portal 2 revolves around. Aperture Science, also known as "Aperture Laboratories," is the research corporation responsible for the creation of the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (or "portal gun"). Information about the company is revealed during the game and via the real-world website.
According to the Aperture Science website, the company was founded in 1953 by Cave Johnson for the sole purpose of making shower curtains for the U.S. military. However, after becoming mentally unstable from mercury poisoning in 1978, Johnson created a "three tier" research and development plan to make his organization successful. The first two tiers, the " Heimlich Counter-Manuever" (a maneuver designed to ensure choking) and the "Take-A-Wish Foundation" (a program to give the wishes of dying children to unrelated, entirely healthy adults), were commercial failures and led to an investigation of the company by the U.S. Government. However, when the investigative committee heard of the success of the third tier, a "man-sized ad-hoc quantum tunnel through physical space with possible applications as a shower curtain," they recessed permanently and gave Aperture Science an open-ended contract to continue their research. The development of GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) an "artificially intelligent research assistant and disk operating system," began in 1986 in response to Black Mesa's work on similar portal technology. A presentation seen during gameplay reveals that GLaDOS was also included in a proposed bid for de-icing fuel lines, incorporated as a "fully functional disk-operation system" which is "arguably alive," unlike Black Mesa's proposal which "inhibits ice, nothing more." Roughly thirteen years later, work on GLaDOS was completed and the untested AI was activated during the company's first annual bring-your-daughter-to-work day. The record ends at that point on a positive note. The portions of the Aperture Science Enrichment Center that Chell (the main protagonist of Portal) explores, suggest that it is part of a massive research installation. At the time of events depicted in Portal, the Aperture Science Enrichment Center facility seems to be long deserted, although most of its equipment remains operational without the need for human control. Though Aperture Science exists in the Half-Life universe, it is unclear when these events take place in that time-line. At one point, GLaDOS states that "the world has changed since you last left the building," claiming to be the only thing standing between "us" and "them," yet does not elaborate on the details. The apparent abandonment of the facility may not have been entirely intentional on the part of the Aperture Science staff. In the final area of the game, a red phone with a severed wire sits on a desk near the chamber housing GLaDOS' hardware, which the in-game commentary reveals was meant to be used by Aperture employees as a way to make an emergency call in case GLaDOS "became sentient and/or God-like." The commentator then notes that, clearly, this fail-safe did not work as planned. In the game, GLaDOS claims to have flooded the facility with a deadly neurotoxin before the Aperture employees installed her morality core.
Direct Timeline of Events at Aperture Science
1953 - Aperture Science begins operations as a manufacturer of shower curtains. Early product line provides a very low-tech portal between inside and outside your shower.
1956 - Eisenhower administration awards Aperture a contract to provide shower curtains to all branches of the military except the Navy.
1957 - 1975 - Mostly shower curtains.
1978 - Aperture Founder and CEO, Cave Johnson, is exposed to mercury while secretly developing a dangerous mercury-injected rubber sheeting from which he plans to manufacture seven deadly shower curtains to be given as gifts to each member of the House Naval Appropriations committee.
1979 - Both of Cave Johnson's kidneys fail. Brian damaged, dying, and incapable of being convinced that time is not now flowing backwards, Johnson lays out a three tiered R&D program. The results, he says, will 'guarantee the continued success of Aperture Science far into the fast-approaching distant past.'
Tier 1: The Heimlich Counter-Maneuver - A reliable technique for interrupting the life-saving Heimlich Maneuver.
Tier 2: The Take-A-Wish Foundation - A charitable organization that will purchase wishes from the parents of terminally ill children and redistribute them to wish-deprived but otherwise health adults.
Tier 3: 'Some kind of rip in the fabric of space... That would... Well, it'd be like, I don't know, something that would help with the shower curtains I guess. I haven't worked this idea out as much as the wish-taking one.'
1981 - Diligent Aperture engineers complete the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver and Take-A-Wish Foundation initiative. The company announces products related to the research in a lavish, televised ceremony. These products become immediately, wildly unpopular. After a string of very public choking and despondent sick child disasters, senior company officials are summoned before a Senate investigative committee. During these proceedings, an engineer mentions that some progress has been made of Tier 3, the 'man-sized ad hoc quantum tunnel through physician space with possible applications as a shower curtain.' The committee is quickly permanently recessed, as Aperture is granted an open-ended contract to secretly continue research on the 'Portal' and Heimlich Counter-Maneuver projects.
1981-1985 - Work progresses on the 'Portal' project. Several high ranking Fatah personnel choke to death on lamb chunks despite the intervention of their bodyguards.
1986 - Word reaches Aperture management that another defense contractor called 'Black Mesa' is working on a similar portal technology. In response to this news, Aperture begins developing the Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System (GLaDOS), an artificially intelligent research assistant and disk operating system.
1996 - After a decade spent bringing the disk operating parts of GLaDOS to a state of more or less basic functionality, working begins on the Genetic Lifeform component.
Some Time Later – Aperture Science facility is abandoned because of GLaDOS. GLaDOS has free reign, only limited by a Morality Core that only seems to stop her from flooding the center with a deadly neurotoxin.
Aperture Science, Inc. is mentioned during Half-Life 2: Episode Two, in which the icebreaker ship Borealis, belonging to the corporation, is said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances, along with part of its drydock. During its development, Half-Life 2 featured a chapter set on the Borealis, but this was abandoned and removed before release. On the Aperture Science, you have one of two options; to type "help" or type "Login". If you choose "Help" you will receive a humorous message. If you choose "Login" you will have choices to access the website. You can type anything as the username, and "portal", or "portals" for a limited version of the website. Alternatively, you can enter "cjohnson" as the username and "tier3" as the password for the full version of the site.
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