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Aperture Science

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This subject is related to the Combine era.
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This subject is related to the Portal 2 era.

For other uses, see Aperture (disambiguation).

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Aperture Science grey.svg
Aperture Science, Inc.
Political information

Scientific research corporation

Societal information

Upper Michigan, USA (Enrichment Center)[1]

  • A Trusted Friend in Science[2][3]
  • Not Never But NOW[2][3]
  • Courage is Not the Absence of Fear[2][3]
  • There's a hole in the sky through which things can fly[4]
  • We do what we must because we can[2]
  • The best damn applied sciences company on Earth (informal)[5]
  • A clear picture of the future[6]
  • A clear focus on the future[6]

See Aperture Science technology

Historical information
Formed from

Shower curtain manufacturer

Date of establishment


"Cave Johnson here, founder and CEO of Aperture Science: the best damn applied sciences company on Earth."
Cave Johnson[src]

Aperture Science, Inc.,[7] often referred to as Aperture Science or simply Aperture, is a United States-based scientific research corporation appearing in Portal and Portal 2, as well as other sources.

Its main facility is the Enrichment Center, located in Upper Michigan,[1] with at least one other base of operations in Cleveland, Ohio.[8] Originally a shower curtain manufacturer named Aperture Fixtures,[9] it evolved over the course of half a century into an experimental physics research institution and a bitter rival of Black Mesa.

Aperture Laboratories is also used as a trade name by Aperture for most of its products, as Aperture Science dba Aperture Laboratories. Aperture Science Innovators was the brand used from 1947[10] to the 1970s.



Cave Johnson era[edit]

Parking lot and guard hut of the Aperture Science Enrichment Center.

Sometime before 1943, Aperture Science's predecessor, Aperture Fixtures, was founded by Cave Johnson, as a shower curtain manufacturer. In 1944 Johnson, now a billionaire, purchased a salt mine in Upper Michigan, aiming to "bring science and industry to Michigan". In 1947 Aperture Science Innovators was formally established. Early work on the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device began at this point as well; the early version, called the Aperture Science Portable Quantum Tunneling Device, proved to be too bulky for effective use, while poor surface conductors for the portals often caused mangling or death of the test subjects when they tried to use the portals.[source?] Repulsion Gel was first developed around this time as well for use as a diet aid, before being withdrawn after numerous incidents. These technologies were tested in the company's new testing spheres, divided into nine Test Shafts, with only the brightest and best of society chosen for testing.

After being connected to a string of astronaut disappearances in 1968, Aperture Science rebranded, focusing on recruiting homeless people for testing, starting in the 1970's. Propulsion Gel was introduced around this time.

In the 1980's, recruitment of homeless people was replaced by mandatory employee testing. While test results improved, employee retention fell. Around this time Cave Johnson was exposed to Conversion Gel, made out of ground-up Moon rocks, and poisons himself. Terminally ill, he ordered his engineers to begin work on a computer that his mind could be uploaded to. If he were to die before it was completed, his assistant Caroline was to be uploaded insted. In the end, the latter happened, with his assistant becoming the basis of the Genetic Lifeform and Disc Operating System (GLaDOS) project.[11]

Post-Cave Johnson era[edit]


Sometime after the 1980's, the old facility was abandoned in favor of a new Enrichment Center constructed above it. A prototype chassis for GLaDOS was constructed in 1989, and subsequently abandoned.

Some time prior to May 200-, GLaDOS was activated several times by Aperture technicians, but was rapidly turned off again, having attempted to kill them within "one sixteenth of a picosecond" after activation.[12] Undaunted, the scientists began attempts to alter GLaDOS' personality and curb her murderous tendencies by adding various Personality Cores to her system. Several of these cores were deactivated and placed in storage at some point; it is unknown whether this was done by the scientists after they proved to be ineffective, or if GLaDOS herself eventually found ways to rid herself of most of them.

Finally in May 200-, GLaDOS reached her current version for activation, as one of the planned activities on Aperture's first annual "Bring Your Daughter to Work" day. Within one picosecond, GLaDOS became hostile once more, and within two picoseconds she had locked down the entire facility, trapping all inside and flooding the facility with neurotoxin. Survivors of this attack subsequently fitted her with a Morality Core, which prevented her from making use of the neurotoxin again.[13] GLaDOS eventually claimed that thanks to the Morality Core she had "lost all interest in killing", now only craving science and wanting to study and experiment with consciousness. She announced that she wanted to perform an experiment on the company's "Bring Your Cat to Work Day" using cats and boxes, claiming she would have all the necessary materials; all she still needed was "a little neurotoxin". The scientists acquiesced, figuring it would be fine "as long as it [was] for science." GLaDOS then used the neurotoxin to force the remaining Aperture employees into testing,[12] beginning a permanent testing cycle using the captive Aperture employees, aiming to beat Black Mesa in the race for the portal technology. She effectively lost this race, however, when the Black Mesa Incident occurred, which in turn diverted all attention from ever rescuing the trapped Aperture employees.[7][14]

GLaDOS' control[edit]

GLaDOS' Morality Core.

The number of Aperture employees dwindled through the ensuing weeks of testing. The last surviving employee, a schizophrenic programmer named Doug Rattmann, managed avoid captivity as a result of his paranoia. Evading GLaDOS' constant attempts to capture him, he managed to gain access to her Test Subject personnel files and research the psychological profiles of rejected candidates, discovering a woman named Chell who was rejected for testing due to extraordinary tenacity. Hoping Chell's stubborn determination might allow her to defeat GLaDOS, Rattmann tampered with the Test Subject roster, rearranging the order so that Chell's name was at the top. This seemed to go unnoticed by GLaDOS. From this point on, Rattmann hid in unused portions of the facility, where GLaDOS was unable to monitor him. She then resumed mandatory testing.

Portal era[edit]
A typical Test Chamber in the Enrichment Center.

Some time after GLaDOS' takeover of Aperture Laboratories and shortly after the Combine invasion of Earth,[15] the Enrichment Center seems to be long abandoned, and GLaDOS seems to rule it alone, although other people are apparently still trapped somewhere.[16] The scribblings left by Rattmann also seem rather old, showing that the Enrichment Center has been partially abandoned for some time. A calendar named "The girls of Aperture Science", dated 1983, is also rather worn-out. Chell is awakened in her Relaxation Vault in the Enrichment Center, and is guided as a Test Subject by GLaDOS, utilizing the completed ASHPD, while the A.I. shows signs of instability. When GLaDOS attempts to murder Chell at the end of her tests, she flees through maintenance areas of the Enrichment Center, and eventually seemingly destroys GLaDOS, before being dragged away inside by the Party Escort Bot.

Before her partial destruction, GLaDOS hints to Chell that things have changed since the last time she left the building, and that what is going on out there will make her wish she were back in here. GLaDOS also says she was the only thing standing between them GLaDOS and Chell and an undetermined group, most likely the Combine.

Portal 2 era[edit]

Portal 2 is set in the far future after Portal, roughly 50,000 years.[17] During that time, Aperture Science is left in massive disarray after GLaDOS had been deactivated, although other parts of the facility remain powered and functional such as the Personality Cores and Chell's Relaxation Vault.

Other facts[edit]

The Borealis as seen in Episode Two.
  • Aperture Science owned a research ship, named Borealis, housing a yet to be revealed technology. It disappeared and took a chunk of its drydock with it and soon became a legend amongst the scientific community. Debate raged between Eli Vance and Isaac Kleiner over whether the technology within should be destroyed or used. Kleiner said he felt that the power could be used to destroy the Combine, but Eli seemed to suggest that he felt that trying to utilize the power could result in a repeat of the Black Mesa Incident.
  • Aperture Science and Black Mesa were bitter rivals. As seen in the Portal maps testchmb_a_15 and escape_02, Aperture Science employees were briefed on Black Mesa through slideshow presentations, such as one titled "Dollar$ and Sense: Competing with Black Mesa for DoD and Government-wide Acquisition Contracts" (apparently made in the nineties, given its style). This slideshow gives some statistics pertaining to Black Mesa, a graphic comparing the GSA schedules for both Black Mesa and Aperture Science, showing that Black Mesa did not ask much and received more or less the same, while Aperture asked a lot, and received much less than Black Mesa, and compares what Aperture and Black Mesa have to submit to the Defense Logistics Agency for developing a Fuel System Icing Inhibitor, and the role of their GLaDOS in that task. These slides show how much they were directly competing for government funding; Isaac Kleiner also theorized that the Borealis disaster may have been caused by Aperture Science's rush for such funding.

"Dollar$ and Sense" slides[edit]

  • During Chell's tests, GLaDOS mentions a "self esteem fund for girls", to which one can donate one or all of their vital organs. This is likely true, as it is apparently said as one of GLaDOS' few automatic messages.
  • The bring-your-daughter-to-work day mentioned on is also mentioned by GLaDOS in Portal, where she says that that day is the perfect time to have one's daughter tested.
  • A memo found among the ASCII art images revealed during the Portal ARG states that Aperture Science is built on three pillars, apparently coined by Cave Johnson himself:[18]
"Pillar one: Science without results is just witchcraft.

Pillar two: Get results or you're fired.
Pillar three: if you suspect a coworker of bein' a witch, report them immediately. I cannot stress that enough. Witchcraft will not be tolerated."

  • Another memo suggests that Cave Johnson had some issues with official accountants, who were likely responsible for managing the funds given by the state, as they seem to be an authority higher than him.[19][20]
  • Another memo appears to be a letter from Johnson to several Test Subjects who raised their concerns about the dangers of the research conducted by Aperture Science.[20]
  • As suggested in Portal, Aperture has not much concern about its Test Subjects. A memo revealed by the Portal ARG apparently consisting of the answer to a (confidential) letter received by Cave Johnson elaborates on this, and seems to describe the four types of Test Subjects and their behavior, in a not very human way.[21] It goes as follows:

October 17th, 1976
Re: Human Enrichment & Testing Initiative, Resource Acquisitions

1. "Low Risk" Human Resource Acquisitions

a. Hoboes and Tramps
Lives spent wandering aimlessly, cowering before authority, and drinking concussive amounts of home-distilled potato alcohol make hoboes the perfect Human Enrichment test subjects. The hobo questions nothing, will follow orders if fed, and, like all hoboes, has a restless, wandering heart. (Note: The wandering heart of the hobo should not be confused with Drifting Heart Syndrome, which several transients contracted during testing.)

b. Child Orphans and Foundlings
Deep-rooted abandonment issues leave most orphans highly susceptible to shame-based psychology (for a complete list of opportune moments to obliterate the esteem of test subjects, please consult Training Video #89-D, "You'd Perform This Test Better if You Had Parents"). Recent advances in the use of scorn, flattery used in an ironic context and naked contempt as motivational tools have yielded similarly profitable results.

c. Psychiatric Patients
Past experience shows these fellows are simply not shy at all about carrying on, disrupting tests and defecating just about anywhere that pleases them. Frankly, it is off-putting, and small wonder why Aperture-brand mental institutions are being phased out in favor of more orphanages.

d. Seniors
Frail, brittle hands make holding science devices difficult. Most were born before the advent of science, and can become confused and disoriented when asked to participate in relatively simple tests (teleportation, invisibility, adjusting esteem levels of orphan children)."

Known personnel[edit]

Cave Johnson, founder and CEO of Aperture.


Test Subjects[edit]

Known technology[edit]

Known weapons[edit]

Other experiments[edit]

Aside from the famous experimental equipment such as the ASHPD, sentry turrets and various gels, Aperture Science conducted a number of research experiments over the course of its operation including:

  • Attempting to reduce the water content of test subjects from sixty percent to around twenty or thirty percent through the use of jet engines.
  • Using nanoparticles in the Mobility Gels to introduce "experimental genes and RNA molecules" into Test Subject's tumors caused by the facility itself.
  • Using invisible lasers to turn Test Subject's blood into gasoline, apparently unnoticeable to the person unless directly observed.
  • Introducing Fluorescent Calcium into Test Subjects through the blood to track the neuronal activity in their brain.
  • An unknown experiment whose intended short-term byproduct is the human excretion of coal.
  • Exposing the Test Subjects to a fully charged superconductor during tests in attempt to see what might happen, expecting between superpowers and tumors.
  • An unknown experiment that could turn the Test Subject's blood into "peanut water" for a few minutes.
    • Unlike the test that would turn Test Subject's blood into gasoline, it seems this one could cause immediately noticeable problems.
  • Control Group Kepler-Seven was implanted with tiny microchips about the size of a postcard into their skulls which vibrates and beeps when it gets close to reaching five hundred degrees, likely due to overheating.
  • A teleportation experiment which would sometimes fail to bring the Test Subject's skin depending on the type they have.
  • An unknown, inaccessible experiment along the player's Test Chamber course seeming to unintentionally invoke time travel.
  • Figuring out uses for ground up moon rock, although finding it to be highly poisonous.
  • Determining the result of injecting Praying Mantis DNA into Test Subjects.
    • This test was later revised for previous applicants of test to kill the army of "Mantis Men" likely produced by this with rifles.

The results of these experiments varied greatly. Many were discontinued and vitrified, sealed behind heavy vault doors with biohazard warnings. Oddly, the introductory recordings at the doors were left functional.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Before the release of Portal 2, a different history for Aperture Science was provided on the website, whose dates were later retconned by the GameInformer article "Aperture Science: A History" (On, "1975", "1978" and "1979" were originally given as the date for Aperture Science ceasing manufacturing only shower curtains, Johnson's mercury poisoning, and Johnson's kidney failure, respectively. These dates were later retconned to 1973, 1974 and 1976, as seen in the updated Aperture Science timeline on Game Informer). It is unknown how much of this story should still be considered canon.

Original Backstory[edit]

In 1953, Aperture Science's predecessor, Aperture Fixtures is founded by Cave Johnson, as a shower curtain manufacturer. The name "Aperture Fixtures", seemingly random, is chosen "to make the curtains appear more hygienic".[7] In 1956, the Eisenhower administration signs a contract with Aperture to manufacture shower curtains to all branches of the US Military, except the Navy.[7] From 1957 to 1973, the company produces mostly shower curtains,[7][14] eventually making Cave Johnson a billionaire.

In 1974, 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,[7][14] likely because the decision of the Navy not getting its shower curtains from Aperture depended on that committee, and Johnson probably held a grudge against them for that. In 1976, both of Cave Johnson's kidneys fail. Brain damaged, dying, and incapable of realizing time is not now flowing backwards (thus realizing his time will come soon), he lays out a three tiered research and development program. The results, he says, will "guarantee the continued success of Aperture Science far into the fast-approaching distant past."[7][14]

In 1981, Aperture engineers complete the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver and Take-A-Wish Foundation initiatives. The company announces products related to the research in a 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 on Tier 3, the "man-sized ad hoc quantum tunnel through physical space, with possible applications as a shower curtain." The committee is quickly permanently recessed, and Aperture is granted an open-ended contract to secretly continue research on the 'Portal' and Heimlich Counter-Maneuver projects.[7] From 1981 to 1985, work progresses on the 'Portal' project. During this time, several high ranking Fatah personnel choke to death on lamb chunks despite the intervention of their bodyguards,[7] showing that the US government has apparently put the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver to work.

As far as 1982, the Enrichment Center, where Test Subjects undergo tests, is functioning, as the Enrichment Center Test Subject Application Process, a 50-question questionnaire destined for applying Test Subject, is already used at that time.[7] It is unknown if the Enrichment Center is already "computer-aided" in 1982, as scientists have been known to supervise them from small offices until an undetermined date. The Enrichment Center Test Subject Application is operated by version 1.07 of GLaDOS, later "1.07a" and "1.09".[7] In 1985, the Aperture Image Format is created.[5]

In 1986, word reaches Aperture Science management that Black Mesa is working on a similar portal technology. In response to this news, Aperture Science begins developing GLaDOS.[7] It is unknown why and how her name was already in use as far as in 1973. In 1985, the Aperture Image Format is maintained by Doug Rattmann.[5] In 1996, after a decade spent bringing the Disk Operating System parts of GLaDOS to a state of more or less basic functionality, work begins on the Genetic Lifeform component.[7]


The isometric Aperture Science offices from the "Portal is Free" video.
  • Aperture literally means "narrow gap or hole".
  • Aperture employees are usually depicted as simple stick figures nicknamed "Bendy". They are used in instructional videos and can be interacted with in The Lab.
  • When Portal was made available for free on Steam in May 2010 to coincide with its arrival on the Mac platform, a promotional video titled "Portal is Free" was released by Valve on YouTube through their official channel, and was presented as a "motivational recruitment video" (it was renamed "Portal is Free (Well, it was - now it's just a good deal)." when the deal was over), in a similar fashion to the original Portal trailer, titled "Orientation Video no. 1 - A Safe and Healthy Environment". In the video's written introduction, the deal is said to have been made possible "in part by a generous grant from Aperture Science" itself. Then the video is mostly made of isometric subjects filled with Bendies. The first isometric subject is two levels of the Aperture Laboratories, where Bendies can be seen using the ASHPD, using toilets, speaking in a projection room, reading a book, waiving, etc. A 1500 Megawatt Aperture Science Heavy Duty Super-Colliding Super Button can also be seen, as well as several stacked Weighted Storage Cubes, and ATLAS and P-body. GLaDOS herself explains that Portal itself was a cornerstone recruitment tool for Aperture Science's 'Portal' project. GLaDOS then says that the game has shown them that, when confronted with science, Test Subjects may exhibit several personality flaws. Bendies are then seen moving on a conveyor belt, with a Portal box in their hands. Each illustrates a personality flaw said by GLaDOS: cowardice (the Test Subject throws away its Portal box and jumps from the belt), impaired motor skills (a portal opens and the TS falls through it), poor judgment (the TS turns its back, to show a Black Mesa tattoo on the buttocks), fear of heights (the conveyor belt lowers itself, to leave the TS in the void, to let him fall while it utters a Wilhelm scream), weights (the TS gets crushed by a Companion Cube), depths (drowns in a tub of the Portal green liquid brought from underneath), bullets (Aperture Science Sentry Turrets make bullet holes in the TS), and fire (the TS goes up in flames). Then GLaDOS says that the Aperture marketing engineers have decided to give Portal for free to consumers, depicting it as a "home version of the 'Portal' project". She then suggests consumers to measure the value of those around them, and find a companion for the upcoming Cooperative Portal Testing Initiative (introduced in the Portal ARG), i.e. Portal 2.
  • Portal series' writers Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw see the rivalry between Aperture Science and Black Mesa as "snobs versus slobs", Black Mesa being the snobs and Aperture Science "the slobs, the lovable goofballs".[15]

Artwork gallery[edit]

Portal is filled with Aperture Science and Aperture Laboratories logos, with numerous color variants.

Aperture Science logo variants[edit]

As with Black Mesa, the Aperture Science logo is directly based on the company's name, appearing as a stylized, partially closed diaphragm, with an aperture in the center. An "aperture" is an adjustable opening in an optical instrument, such as a camera or telescope, that controls the amount of light passing through a lens or onto a mirror. An "aperture" can also simply refer to any opening.[22][23] However the name "Aperture Science" is likely random, as it was merely chosen for its shower curtains to appear "more hygienic".[7] Dog's unique eye is also an aperture in a diaphragm; the Emergency Intelligence Incinerator is also topped by a diaphragm. Furthermore, real-life logos such as the Picasa or the Jyske Bank logos bear similarities with the Aperture Science logo.

Aperture Laboratories logo variants[edit]

The Enrichment Center logo features the Aperture Science "diaphragm", minus one of its irises, and the words "Aperture Laboratories", written in the Univers font.

Posters and other[edit]

List of appearances[edit]

Waving Bendy model.

Main games[edit]