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


"Aperture Science. We do what we must because we can."
GLaDOS in "Still Alive"[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 Science for most of its products. Aperture Science Innovators was the brand used from 1947 to the 1970s, where it was renamed to simply Aperture until it was renamed again in the 1980s to its modern name.



1940s - 1960s[edit]

Aperture Science Innovators lobby area.

Aperture Science originated as a shower curtain company named Aperture Fixtures, founded by Cave Johnson. The company did so well it earned the “Shower Curtain Salesman of 1943” award. In 1944 Cave Johnson purchased the salt mine that the future science company would be based out of, and in 1947 Cave Johnson founded Aperture Science Innovators, earning the “Best New Science Company” award. According to the company logo, Aperture Science Innovators either valued or specialized in salt, asbestos, and curtains.

By 1952 the company had begun development of nine “Test Shafts”, starting from the bottom of the salt mine. These testing shafts contained many rooms, facilities, and giant testing spheres suspended off the ground. Construction included a fully functioning underground train connecting all nine test shafts, as well as at least 200 test chambers per shaft, putting suspected test chamber amounts in the thousands even by 1952. The year also saw Pump Station Alpha being constructed, the pumping station for Repulsion Gel.

Interestingly, by this point in the company's history Aperture Science Innovators had already developed the first versions of the Portal Gun, called at the time the “Aperture Science Portable Quantum Tunneling Device,” a handheld single dimensional teleporter.

The company ran experiments on Repulsion Gel in Test Shaft 09, also referred to as Test Shaft Zulu-Bunsen beginning in 1953, lasting no later than 1961, with the last chamber being built in 1958. On July 15, 1961, Test Shaft Zulu-Bunsen was condemned. A vitrification order was issued, and warnings placed outside the Test Shaft that the shaft may contain harmful quantities of cosmic ray spallation elements.

In 1968 Aperture Science was a part of hearings on missing astronauts, likely subjects in experiments gone wrong.

1970s - 1980s[edit]

By 1970 Aperture Science Innovators was bankrupt, or at the very least extremely low on funds. Aperture Science thus decides to kidnap homeless people off the street to be test subjects, offering 60 dollars payment upon completion of the tests. Around this time, Aperture Science Innovators renamed itself to simply Aperture, alongside changing its logo.

The year 1971 saw construction of the new lobby and testing area in Test Shaft Zulu-Bunsen, alongside the construction of Pump Station Beta, the pumping station for Propulsion Gel. By this year, work on the Borealis, a boat with an experimental portal technology, had begun.

Additional testing spheres were constructed in Test Shaft Zulu-Bunsen in 1972 and 1976 to test the new Propulsion Gel, alongside the old Repulsion Gel from the 1950s. Testing of the gel wrapped up around 1976.

By 1982, Aperture adopted its modern logo and name, calling itself Aperture Laboratories. Around this period founder and CEO, Cave Johnson, got deathly ill from ground up moon rocks while testing to see if they were a valid portal conductor. In 1982 Pump Station Gamma was constructed for pumping the new Conversion Gel produced from ground up moon rocks. Aperture Laboratories had also begun development of the Aperture Science Robot Worker, which began replacing portions of the workforce. Cave Johnson began development of GLaDOS in this period, wishing to put his consciousness in a computer before he died of moon rock poisoning.

The Enrichment Center Test Subject Application Process, a 50-question questionnaire destined for applying Test Subject, is already being used by this time. The Enrichment Center Test Subject Application is operated by version 1.07 of GLaDOS, later "1.07a" and "1.09".[7] It is unknown if this version of GLaDOS is related to the prototype chassis seen in the co-op campaign Art Therapy.

The company was in a continued decline, not being able to use homeless individuals as test subjects, rather forcing their own employees to test. This drastically reduced employee retention, resulting in Cave Johnson beginning to phase out human tests after testing of the new Conversion Gel had finished.

Cave Johnson died in the late 1980s, being replaced by his assistant Caroline.

Post-Cave Johnson era[edit]


In 1985, the Aperture Image Format is maintained by Doug Rattmann.[5] In the 1990s the Aperture Science Red Phone plan is implemented in case GLaDOS appears to become sentient and godlike, requiring an employee to sit by a red phone on a desk in GLaDOS chamber's entrance hall.[10] In 1997, GLaDOS' version is 3.11.[5]

In 1998, Aperture Science releases several new testing elements, such as the Excursion Funnel, a tractor beam-like funnel made of liquid asbestos, the Thermal Discouragement Beam, a laser to be used with a Weighted Pivot Cube to destroy Sentry Guns and activate some buttons, the Aerial Faith Plate, a catapult plate flinging into the air Test Subjects or any other object upon contact, and the Pneumatic Diversity Vent, a variant of the Vital Apparatus Vent used for distributing objects to Test Chambers.[11][12]

Sometime between 1998 and 200-, Aperture Science continued development of GLaDOS. Several attempts are made to make GLaDOS less hostile, including the development of the Morality Core. The core seems to work at first at making GLaDOS less hostile, and Aperture Science activates her. However, it is a lie, and GLaDOS tricks Aperture Science into giving her control of the facility's neurotoxin, killing most of the facility.

Other facts[edit]

  • 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". This rivalry is expanded in Portal 2, with Cave Johnson angrily ranting about Black Mesa (supposedly) stealing their products. However, due to the refusal of Cave to release any products, it is possible Black Mesa just beat Aperture to the punch when it comes to releasing technology. Isaac Kleiner theorized that the Borealis disaster may have been caused by Aperture Science's rush for funding.

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]

The isometric Aperture Science offices from the "Portal is Free" video.
  • Aperture literally means "narrow gap or hole". This most likely refers to the ASHPD and its Portals. This makes it literally mean, "Portal Science".
  • 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 with the release of Portal 2.
  • Portal series' writers Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw sees 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".[13]

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.[14][15] 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]

Main games[edit]



  1. 1.0 1.1 The Up Pioneer Press cover
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Portal
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Valve Store
  4. Portal trailer
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Portal ARG
  6. 6.0 6.1 PotatoFoolsDay ARG
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2
  8. Borealis blueprint
  9. Shower Curtain Salesman award, 1943
  10. Portal commentary
  11. Game Informer, April 2010 issue
  12. Portal 2 video playlist on Combine OverWiki's YouTube channel
  13. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Eurogamer_interview_March_14.2C_2011
  14. "Aperture" definition on The Free Dictionary
  15. Schematics of different aperture positions in a camera lens on the University of Victoria website