The lights are on
Given the state of the Aperture Science Laboratories in Portal 2, it’s easy to say that the facility has seen better days. Valve has promised that players will have significant opportunities to poke around behind the scenes of the dilapidated testing facility and gain a better glimpse at the organization's eccentric origins, but you don’t need to wait till Portal 2 hits retail to learn more about Aperture Science. Valve crafted a fictional history for Aperture while working on Portal 1 – a history filled with shower curtains, a foundation that steals wishes from terminally ill children, and the birth of the Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System. Read on for the complete history of Aperture Science.
Aperture Science: A History1953 – Aperture Science begins operations as a manufacturer of shower curtains. Early product line provides a very low-tech portal between the inside and outside of your shower. Very little science is actually involved. The name is chosen to make the curtains appear more hygienic.1956 – Eisenhower administration awards Aperture a contract to provide shower curtains to all branches of the military except the Navy.1957 - 1973 – Mostly shower curtains.1974 – 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.1976 – Both of Cave Johnson’s kidneys fail. Brain damaged, dying, and incapable of being convinced that time is not now flowing backwards, Johnson lays out a three-tier R&D program. The results, he says, will “guarantee the continued success of Aperture Science far into the fast-approaching distant past.”
1981 – Diligent Aperture engineers complete the Heimlich Counter-Maneuver and Take-A-Wish Foundation initiatives. The company announces products related to the research in a lavish, televised ceremony. These products immediately become wildly unpopular. After a very public string of 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 and permanently recessed, and Aperture is granted an open-ended contract to continue research on the “Portal” and "Heimlich Counter-Maneuver" projects in secret.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, work begins on the Genetic Lifeform component.1998 – The untested AI is activated for the first time as one of the planned activities on Aperture’s first annual bring-your-daughter-to-work day. In many ways, the initial test goes well: Within one picosecond of being switched on, GLaDOS becomes self-aware. The "going well" phase lasts for two more picoseconds, at which point GLaDOS takes control of the facility, locks everyone inside, and begins a permanent cycle of testing. Her goal: beat the hated Black Mesa in the race to develop a functioning portal technology. Days later, that race is lost when Black Mesa successfully deploys an interdimensional gate through which an alien race emerges and effectively ends the outside world. Still interested in Aperture? Keep an eye on the official Aperture Science website, which Valve occasionally updates with new content.