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Imagecat For other uses, see Aperture (disambiguation).

Aperture Science, Inc.[7] is a United States-based scientific research corporation appearing as the main antagonistic organization in Portal and Portal 2, as well as its logo on the Borealis in Half-Life 2: Episode Two.

The main facility is the Aperture Science 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, as Aperture Science dba Aperture Laboratories. Aperture Science Innovators was the trade name used before the 1970s.



The original Aperture Science Innovators logo
"The Future is Here, and it's Under the Earth's Crust"
―Front page article celebrating Johnson's purchase of the Michigan salt mines.

Aperture Fixtures was founded in the late 1940s by Cave Johnson as a shower curtain manufacturer - the name "Aperture Fixtures" was chosen "to make the curtains appear more hygienic"[7] - and by 1943 Cave's company was routinely earning the annual shower curtain salesman award. Using his newly accumulated funds, Cave invested in real estate and purchased a vast, decommissioned salt mine in Michigan in January 1944. Aperture Science Innovators was incorporated in 1947, receiving the Best New Science Company Award that same year, granted by the Science and Business Institute of America. Its long rivalry with Black Mesa started at the same time: Aperture was #2 on the Top 100 Applied Science Companies ranking for 1949, starting a pattern that would never be broken.[10]


Aperture Science Innovators logo 1950s
"They say great science is built on the shoulders of giants. Not here. At Aperture, we do all our science from scratch. No hand holding."
―Cave Johnson's pre-recorded message circa 1956

The salt mine served as the foundation for the future Aperture Science facility, from 1952 onwards.[11] Rather than delve into it and build downwards, Johnson elected for an unorthodox approach and began building from the floor up, starting at four kilometers of depth and moving upwards. Nine test shafts were designed, with asbestos enrichment spheres serving as self-contained testing environments. As Aperture was riding high, no expense was spared, with waiting rooms furnished with genuine wooden paneling, wrought iron fittings, with attendants catering to every whim of the test subjects shuttled to the Michigan facility with limousines.[12] Johnson attracted the cream of the crop to Aperture, including astronauts, war heroes, and Olympic athletes,[13] As a prestigious scientific organization at the time, test subjects waived their fees and they were instead donated to charitable organizations.[14] Each subject's background determined the kind of assignment they received and in which test shaft they'd perform the tests.[15]

The first enrichment sphere in test shaft 09 was completed in 1953[16] and tests focused on the repulsion gel.[17] Aperture's peculiar approach to testing existed since the beginning, as the control group for the repulsion gel only received blue paint, leading to brutal injuries among the test subjects.[18] The gel also contained untested elements and compounds, which did not agree with the skeleton system (violently so),[19] and sumbersion in the gel could have catastrophic consequences for health.[20] Johnson was also a wild card, routinely recording messages for test subjects that also violated scientific protocol.[21]

Sometime in 1953, the first portal technology was discovered by Aperture Science Innovators, acting as a portal between the two sides of the shower curtain, which apparently they were still selling.[22]

Other tests performed in the fifties included genetic modification (combining human and praying mantis DNA),[23] which were eventually postponed indefinitely and replaced with combat tests against an army of mantis men,[24] reducing human water content from sixty to thirty and even twenty percent by exposure to jet engines,[25] using lasers to turn test subject blood into gasoline,[26] coffee dosed with fluorescent calcium to monitor neuronal activity (at the risk of vitrifying the frontal lobe of the subject),[27] and more. The asbestos enrichment spheres turned out to be the least dangerous element of testing at Aperture Science.[28][29]

Despite the horrific nature of Johnson's experiments, Aperture remained popular. In 1956, the Eisenhower administration signed a contract with Aperture to manufacture shower curtains to all branches of the US Military, except the Navy.[7] Aperture also landed numerous defense contracts with the Department of Defense, earning the runner up prizes for Contractor of Defense for 1952, 1953, and 1954, always coming up second behind Black Mesa. It has also earned the Spirit of Idaho award for 1955, awarded by the National Potato Board for promoting "potato science".[10]

The funding allowed Aperture to complete three enrichment spheres in test shaft 09 by 1958[30] and a repulsion gel pumping station. At its peak, over a thousand tests were performed per day,[31] although it remained a hostile work place to both test subjects and employees. Cave once fired a disabled employee on the spot to save on making access ramps.[32]


Eventually, the notorious nature of testing caught up with Aperture. The bottom section was sealed off on June 15, 1961, officially due to "cosmic ray spallation elements", and many more test chambers were sealed and vitrified. However, the greatest blow to Aperture Science came with the 1968 Senate Hearings on missing astronauts, resulting in bankruptcy. Johnson also blamed industrial espionage by Black Mesa for his misfortune.[33]


ASCDT cave

Cave Johnson, founder and CEO.

Aperture Science logo 1970s

Johnson somehow managed to keep his company intact and the Michigan facility expanded further in the seventies, with new enrichment spheres installed and a new access level completed by 1971.[34] The financial peril that Aperture landed itself in also resulted in large cutbacks, with the elegant wooden paneling, marble, and carpeting replaced by cheap plastic, linoleum, and imitation wood in the newly erected 70s offices. Tests focused on the Propulsion Gel, newly created by Aperture's experimental units.[35], more genetic modification by using nanomachines to pump experimental genes and RNA molecules into test subject tumors (complimentary tumors were provided using machines disguised as folding chairs in the lobby; anything short of lead underpants resulted in irradiation).[36] Despite the hardship, Aperture completed its greatest achievement yet in 1971, building a complete dry dock 3975 m below the surface in its Michigan facility, constructing the infamous Borealis icebreaker that would represent the greatest achievement of Aperture's portal technology. Its disappearance with parts of the drydock would become legendary among experts in the field.[37]

Deprived of access to elite test subjects, Aperture started scraping the bottom of the social barrel to put people into the testing machine: $60 were offered to vagrants and homeless people in return for participation. The unethical enticement served to provide a steady supply of disposable test subjects and as a distraction from the mountain of legal paperwork they had to sign.[38] Johnson's messages reinforced the financial motivation,[39] with barely concealed contempt added into the mix.[40][41][42] [43][44] Survivors were immediately removed from the facility,[45] and constantly monitored in case they could soil the facility's interior,[46] provided with a compensation voucher.[47] By 1976,[48] victims of Johnson's predatory practices could earn another $60 for volunteering to be vivisected, fitted with undisclosed "science stuff", and then reassembled. Notably, tumors would be removed at no extra charge.[49][50][51]

Aperture was well aware of the multitude of laws it was breaking and focused on maintaining secrecy. Employees were mandated to alert supervisors if they spotted a journalist or government official, including inspectors for Public Works, OSHA, and the Department of Energy, Government Accountability Office accountants, FEMA coordinators, Nuclear Regulatory Commission representatives, police officers (plainclothes and uniformed), MSHA mine inspectors, and officers from the ATF, FBI, or US Marshals.[52]

In an unknown time in the late 70's, Aperture somehow discovered a feasible time travel method, and began utilizing it in their test shafts and enrichment spheres to conduct tests on homeless people, even if the dangers included the end of the universe.[53]

For an unspecified reason, Cave's kidneys both fail spontaneously. Dying and in his advanced age, he concocts 2 really stupid ideas, the Reverse-Heimlich Maneuver, made to prolong choking, and the Take-A-Wish foundation, taking wishes away from terminal patients.[54]


"When life gives you lemons? Don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! 'I don't want your damn lemons! What am I supposed to do with these?' Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's going to burn your house down! With the lemons! I'm going to get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!"
―Cave Johnson's demented rant that echoes with PotatOS
Aperture Laboratories logo 1980s onwards

Testing using vulnerable people snatched up from the street wrapped up around 1978,[55] with Aperture switching to a different approach in 1981: automation.[56] Human supervisors were replaced with tireless androids, with the remainder of Aperture's human staff instructed to participate in testing. Participation was mandatory, leading to a sharp increase in test subject quality, but an equally sharp drop off in terms of employee retention.[57] Employees were expected to volunteer for testing, with only exceptions granted for those who had allergies to lunar rocks, starch, fulfilled their monthly quota, or had faith in their work performance. Ever-present corporate propaganda reminded employees that they were expendable and that androids could perform their work far better, all to nudge them towards volunteering for testing. The quality of Aperture robots was uneven: Exceptional processing power was married to zero safeguards, with employees instructed to deal with rogue AIs using paradoxes.[58]

In 1981, the 2 ideas mentioned before, the Reverse-Heimlich Maneuver, and the Take-A-Wish foundation, were developed and released to the public in an extravagant ceremony. To the surprise of no one, these products get extremely unpopular and are discontinued. The government gets involved, but Valve was vague with the specifics.[59]

By 1982, the company finalized work on the third and final type of gel, Conversion Gel. Created using ground-up Moon rocks purchased by Johnson at a price of seventy million dollars. Valued at $210 million in 2020 dollars, the purchase was made despite his accountants stating that the company couldn't afford seven bucks worth of rocks. Johnson did what Johnson did best,[60] and was exposed to ground-up moon rocks in the process. Fatally ill,[61] Johnson noted the new gel was an excellent portal conductor and tested whether passing through portals could leech the poison out of his bloodstream.[62] Never particularly coherent in the first place, Johnson's condition suffered due to constant, crippling pain and reliance on painkillers.[63] Before his death that same year, Johnson ordered his engineers to perfect a process of brain mapping and transferring his consciousness into a computer, indirectly starting the development of GLaDOS.[64] Remorseful that he didn't order such research in the fifties and aware of his impending death, he instructed Aperture staff to use Caroline in his stead and have her run Aperture Science.[65]

Hell-bent on achieving his goals, he instructed Aperture scientists to make her take the company over and be transferred to a computer.[66][67] Caroline did, in fact, take over management of the company after Johnson died of moon rock poisoning in ~1988, continuing its scientific mission. The old mine shafts and enrichment spheres were sealed off using massive transition seals and used as foundation for a completely new facility, the Enrichment Center, constructed on top of them. Gel research was abandoned in favor of a focus on portals and development of proprietary technologies to make Aperture independent of third party technologies. One such example is the Aperture Image Format created in 1985,[5] and maintained by Doug Rattmann.[5]

Upon realizing that Black Mesa began work on similar teleportation technology, Aperture Science pursued the development of GLaDOS in 1986, intended to supercharge their portal program.[7] Although the name was in use since 1982, development of GLaDOS did not start until 1986.[68]


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 in 1996.[7] During that time, 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 the GLaDOS chamber's entrance hall.[69] The DOS part of GLaDOS is activated as a test, and worked as intended.

In 1997, GLaDOS' version is 3.11.[5]

In 1998, Aperture releases other testing elements, such as the Excursion Funnel, a tractor beam-like funnel made of liquid asbestos, the Thermal Discouragement Beam, a laser to destroy Sentry Guns and activate 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.[70][71]

Sometime in 1998, Caroline is forcefully put into GLaDOS for the first time, and GLaDOS is switched on for a test as a planned activity for bring-your-daughter-to-work day, which ends catastrophically, with GLaDOS within mere pecoseconds attempting to take control with neurotoxin. Luckily this fails and leads to Aperture developing Aperture Science Personality Constructs to attempt to make GLaDOS not try to kill everyone.[72]


Aperture Science Exit

A back exit of Aperture Laboratories years in the future.

Sometime in 200-, GLaDOS tricks the Aperture Researchers on Aperture's first annual bring-your-cat-to-work day, requesting for access to neurotoxin and other facility systems for an 'Experiment'. For some reason they believe her and give her these powers. Immediately she takes control of the facility, locks everyone inside, floods the Enrichment Center with deadly neurotoxin and kills everyone refuses to opt into her new testing initiative, beginning a permanent cycle of testing, aimed at beating Black Mesa in the race to develop functioning portal technology, even though Aperture has had this technology for decades.[7][73]A while after this, the Black Mesa Incident occurs at the Black Mesa Research Facility, allowing aliens to teleport from Xen to Earth, eventually leading to the Combine invasion, ending GLaDOS' race against Black Mesa.[73] Some Aperture staff survive, One of them being Doug Rattmann.

GLaDOS' Control in the 2000s[]

Glados side


The remaining employees begin going through perpetual rounds of testing, many dying in the process. The number of Aperture Science employees diminishes, until there are only a few of them left.

During that period, Portal Storms continue to rage on Earth and spread chaos, eventually leading to the Seven Hour War, resulting in Earth being defeated and subsequently controlled by the Combine. Later, around 20 years after this incident, Gordon Freeman is awakened from his stasis by the G-Man, and arrives in City 17, which greatly disturbs the Combine's grasp on Earth.

Portal era [Sometime in the 2000s][]

Aperture Labs entrance

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


A typical Test Chamber in the Enrichment Center.

Sometime after GLaDOS' takeover of Aperture Laboratories and shortly after the Combine invasion of Earth,[74] the Enrichment Center seems to be abandoned, and GLaDOS seems to rule it alone, although other people are apparently still trapped somewhere.[69] 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 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 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 or Xen creatures.

Doug Rattmann witness the GLaDOS destruction and, against his better judgement, does not escape and instead goes back into the facility to direct all power into Chell's Relaxation Chamber, dying soon after.[75]

After GLaDOS' destruction, many emergency systems activate, engaging nanobots and personality cores to take care of the facility in GLaDOS' absence.[76]

Portal 2 era[]

Portal 2 takes place around ~50,000 years after the events of Portal 1.[70][77] Chell wakes up from the Long-Term Relaxation Doug Rattmann put her in during the events of Portal 2: Lab Rat, as it was the only way for her to survive. When she wakes up, the first she hears is: "You have been in suspension for: 9. 9. 9. 9. 9. .[sound of metal structures falling apart].. 9. 9. ...". Then the message is interrupted again, not to continue. During that time, Aperture Science likely did not exist anymore. The Personality Cores took over the partially destroyed facility, maintaining basic and vital functions like the nuclear core and manufacturing lines.[70]

Chell is guided by a personality core named Wheatley, through the dilapidated and withered facility, where she accidentally wakes up GLaDOS in the process of trying to escape, and ends up being put back into testing. Aperture Science is reformed as likely the last manmade entity on Earth. Chell eventually escapes as Wheatley concocts a plan to disable all of GLaDOS' weapons, and ends up initiating a Core Transfer, making Wheatley the new Central AI. He goes made with power and punches GLaDOS and Chell into the dark depths of old Aperture, in Test Shaft 09. They make their way out slowly and meet Wheatley again, who has been trying to test with Frankenturrets, their plan fails and they get trapped doing Wheatley's tests, until Wheatley finds the Aperture Science Cooperative Testing Initiative that GLaDOS made sometime before the Core Transfer, and Wheatley then just figures Chell is useless, and throws her onto a platform with a punch of spike plates. She escapes, of course, and makes her way to Wheatley's "lair" and begins using his own bombs against him, attaching corrupted cores onto him to try and initiate a Core Transfer, which fails when Wheatley reveals to have boobytrapped the button. The game ends with Chell portalling on the moon, exiling Wheatley to space, and putting GLaDOS back into control of the facility.

Growing weary of trying to kill her due to multiple failed attempts, she releases Chell into the wilderness, never to be seen again. She hopes.

After Chell's escape, GLaDOS initiates the Cooperate Testing Initiative, where two Aperture Robots cooperate in multiple tests. At the end of Co-Op, the protagonists find a vault full of cryogenically stored humans, perhaps the last humans on earth aside from Chell, and opens it. GLaDOS kills all of them within a week.


Borealis Ep2

The Borealis as seen in Episode Two.

  • Aperture Science owned a research ship, named Borealis, housing an unknown technology. It disappeared, took a chunk of its dry dock 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 fears of another Black Mesa Incident and objects to this.
  • 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[]

  • 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 ApertureScience.com 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:[78]

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.[79][80]
  • 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.[80]
  • 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.[81] 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[]

Test Subjects[]

Known technology[]

Known weapons[]

Other experiments[]

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 tumours 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[]

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Isometric room portal is free

The isometric Aperture Science offices from the "Portal is Free" video.

  • Aperture literally means "narrow gap or hole"; it is the term used for the iris-like opening used in cameras and certain doors, such as the bottom-mounted door on the Aperture Science Pneumatic Diversity Vent . The company's logo reflects this, as it takes the shape of an iris-like aperture. This can also be seen as a pun about portals, which are themselves holes.
  • On ApertureScience.com, "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.
  • In Portal, it is stated that Cave Johnson died due to being exposed to mercury while secretly developing a dangerous mercury-injected rubber sheeting, with which he plans to manufacture seven deadly shower curtains to be given as gifts to each member of the House Naval Appropriations committee[7][73] (Most likely because the decision that led to the Navy declining to buy Aperture's curtains depended on the committee). This was retconned in Portal 2.
  • 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 stick figures. The first isometric subject is two levels of the Aperture Laboratories, where stick figures can be seen using the ASHPD, using toilets, speaking in a projection room, reading a book, waving, 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. Stick figure Test Subjects 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 judgement (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. As in-universe and out-universe meet each other in "Portal is Free", the video obviously non-canon.
  • 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".[74]
  • Aperture Science's logo is similar to the one featured in the software Picasa.

Artwork gallery[]

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

Aperture Science logo variants[]

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. Aperture Science's logo is essentially just a camera lens with F-number 2.8 [82] 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.[83][84] 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[]

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[]

List of appearances[]


  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 5.3 Portal ARG
  6. 6.0 6.1 PotatoFoolsDay ARG
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 ApertureScience.com
  8. Borealis blueprint
  9. Shower Curtain Salesman award, 1943
  10. 10.0 10.1 Fifties' lobby trophy case.
  11. Stencil on the foundations.
  12. Cave Johnson: Now, you already met one another on the limo ride over, so let me introduce myself.
  13. Cave Johnson: Welcome, gentlemen, to Aperture Science. Astronauts, war heroes, Olympians--you're here because we want the best, and you are it. So: Who is ready to make some science?
  14. Cave Johnson: That eager voice you heard is the lovely Caroline, my assistant. Rest assured, she has transferred your honorarium to the charitable organization of your choice. Isn't that right, Caroline?
  15. Cave Johnson: Your test assignment will vary, depending on the manner in which you have bent the world to your will.
  16. Stencil on the enrichment sphere
  17. Cave Johnson: Alright, let's get started. This first test involves something the lab boys call 'repulsion gel.'
  18. Cave Johnson: You're not part of the control group, by the way. You get the gel. Last poor son of a gun got blue paint. Hahaha. All joking aside, that did happen - broke every bone in his legs. Tragic. But informative. Or so I'm told.
  19. Cave Johnson: We haven't entirely nailed down what element it is yet, but I'll tell you this: it's a lively one, and it does NOT like the human skeleton.
  20. Cave Johnson: Oh, in case you got covered in that repulsion gel, here's some advice the lab boys gave me: DO NOT get covered in the repulsion gel.
  21. Cave Johnson: The lab boys just informed me that I should not have mentioned the control group. They're telling me I oughtta stop making these pre-recorded messages. That gave me an idea: make more pre-recorded messages. I pay the bills here, I can talk about the control group all damn day.
  22. Portal 2 The Fall, aperturescience.com
  23. Cave Johnson: Those of you who volunteered to be injected with praying mantis DNA, I've got some good news and some bad news.
  24. Cave Johnson: Bad news is we're postponing those tests indefinitely. Good news is we've got a much better test for you: fighting an army of mantis men. Pick up a rifle and follow the yellow line. You'll know when the test starts.
  25. Cave Johnson: The average human male is about sixty percent water. Far as we're concerned, that's a little extravagant. So if you feel a bit dehydrated in this next test, that's normal. We're gonna hit you with some jet engines, and see if we can't get you down to twenty or thirty percent.
  26. Cave Johnson: If you've cut yourself at all in the course of these tests, you might have noticed that your blood is pure gasoline. That's normal. We've been shooting you with an invisible laser that's supposed to turn blood into gasoline, so all that means is, it's working.
  27. Cave Johnson: Just a heads-up: That coffee we gave you earlier had fluorescent calcium in it so we can track the neuronal activity in your brain. There's a slight chance the calcium could harden and vitrify your frontal lobe. Anyway, don't stress yourself thinking about it. I'm serious. Visualizing the scenario while under stress actually triggers the reaction.
  28. Cave Johnson: All these science spheres are made of asbestos, by the way. Keeps out the rats. Let us know if you feel a shortness of breath, a persistent dry cough or your heart stopping. Because that's not part of the test. That's asbestos.
  29. Cave Johnson: Good news is, the lab boys say the symptoms of asbestos poisoning show a median latency of forty-four point six years, so if you're thirty or older, you're laughing. Worst case scenario, you miss out on a few rounds of canasta, plus you forwarded the cause of science by three centuries. I punch those numbers into my calculator, it makes a happy face.
  30. Stencils inside the spheres.
  31. Cave Johnson: There's a thousand tests performed every day here in our enrichment spheres. I can't personally oversee every one of them, so these pre-recorded messages'll cover any questions you might have, and respond to any incidents that may occur in the course of your science adventure.
  32. Cave Johnson: Bean counters said I couldn't fire a man just for being in a wheelchair. Did it anyway. Ramps are expensive.
  33. Cave Johnson: Greetings, friend. I'm Cave Johnson, CEO of Aperture Science - you might know us as a vital participant in the 1968 Senate Hearings on missing astronauts. And you've most likely used one of the many products we invented. But that other people have somehow managed to steal from us. Black Mesa can eat my bankrupt--
  34. Seventies stencil.
  35. DECORATING APERTURE: [Laura Dubuk] This chapter gave us a great opportunity for visually telling the backstory of Aperture Science. We accomplished this with signs, props and materials. In this area, we get a glimpse of what Aperture Science must have been like in its heyday. We used rich, warm colors and materials like carpeting and marble to indicate that Aperture had a lot of money at one time. Cave Johnson and his staff were just starting out in their enterprise and everyone was eager to do science. This stands in contrast to the stark, cavernous environment outside and the materials you see in the Aperture Labs from later decades. As the player makes their way through more recent areas of the lab, the materials become cheaper, with an abundance of plastic and linoleum showing that Aperture had fallen on harder times and could no longer build high-quality offices for its workers.
  36. Portal 2 The Fall
  37. Isaac Kleiner in Episode Two.
  38. Cave Johnson: Right. Now, you might be asking yourself, 'Cave, just how difficult are these tests? What was in that phone book of a contract I signed? Am I in danger?'
  39. Cave Johnson: Let me answer those questions with a question: Who wants to make sixty dollars? Cash.
  40. Cave Johnson: You can also feel free to relax for up to 20 minutes in the waiting room, which is a damn sight more comfortable than the park benches most of you were sleeping on when we found you.
  41. Cave Johnson: For many of you, I realize 60 dollars is an unprecedented windfall, so don't go spending it all on... I don't know. Caroline, what do these people buy? Tattered hats? Beard dirt?
  42. Cave Johnson: So. Welcome to Aperture. You're here because we want the best, and you're it. Nope. Couldn't keep a straight face.
  43. Cave Johnson: Anyway, don't smudge up the glass down there. In fact, why don't you just go ahead and not touch anything unless it's test related.
  44. Cave Johnson: Thank you - I can't believe I'm thanking these people - for staggering your way through Aperture Science's propulsion gel testing. You've made some real contributions to society for a change, and for that, humanity is grateful.
  45. Cave Johnson: If you had any belongings, please pick them up now. We don't want old newspapers and sticks cluttering up the building.
  46. Cave Johnson: This on? [thump thump] Hey. Listen up down there. That thing's called an elevator. Not a bathroom.
  47. Cave Johnson: Caroline, are the compensation vouchers ready?
  48. Stencil on the 5th sphere track
  49. Cave Johnson: If you're interested in an additional sixty dollars, flag down a test associate and let 'em know. You could walk out of here with a hundred and twenty weighing down your bindle if you let us take you apart, put some science stuff in you, then put you back together good as new.
  50. Cave Johnson: In case you're interested, there's still some positions available for that bonus opportunity I mentioned earlier. Again: all you gotta do is let us disassemble you. We're not banging rocks together here. We know how to put a man back together.
  51. Cave Johnson: So that's a complete reassembly. New vitals. Spit-shine on the old ones. Plus we're scooping out tumors. Frankly, you oughtta be paying us.
  52. Notice placard in the 70s areas.
  53. Cave Johnson: Alright, this next test may involve trace amounts of time travel. So, word of advice: If you meet yourself on the testing track, don't make eye contact. Lab boys tell me that'll wipe out time. Entirely. Forward and backward! So do both of yourselves a favor and just let that handsome devil go about his business.
  54. ApertureScience.com
  55. Stencil on the surface elevator after spheres four and five.
  56. Stencil
  57. Cave Johnson: Since making test participation mandatory for all employees, the quality of our test subjects has risen dramatically. Employee retention, however, has not.
  58. Safety poster in the 80s area.
  59. ApertureScience.com
  60. Cave Johnson: The bean counters told me we literally could not afford to buy seven dollars worth of moon rocks, much less seventy million. Bought 'em anyway. Ground 'em up, mixed em into a gel.
  61. Cave Johnson: And guess what? Ground up moon rocks are pure poison. I am deathly ill.
  62. Cave Johnson: Still, it turns out they're a great portal conductor. So now we're gonna see if jumping in and out of these new portals can somehow leech the lunar poison out of a man's bloodstream. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. [coughs] Let's all stay positive and do some science.
  63. Cave Johnson: That said, I would really appreciate it if you could test as fast as possible. Caroline, please bring me more pain pills.
  64. Cave Johnson: The point is: If we can store music on a compact disc, why can't we store a man's intelligence and personality on one? So I have the engineers figuring that out now.
  65. Cave Johnson: Brain Mapping. Artificial Intelligence. We should have been working on it thirty years ago. I will say this - and I'm gonna say it on tape so everybody hears it a hundred times a day: If I die before you people can pour me into a computer, I want Caroline to run this place.
  66. Cave Johnson: Now she'll argue. She'll say she can't. She's modest like that. But you make her.
  67. Cave Johnson: Hell, put her in my computer. I don't care.
  68. ApertureScience.com
  69. 69.0 69.1 Portal commentary
  70. 70.0 70.1 70.2 Game Informer, April 2010 issue
  71. Portal 2 video playlist on Combine OverWiki's YouTube channel
  72. ApertureScience.com, Portal 2 The Fall, Portal Comic Lab Rat
  73. 73.0 73.1 73.2 Aperture Science: A History on Game Informer
  74. 74.0 74.1 "How Valve Opened Up Portal 2" on Eurogamer.net
  75. Portal Comic Lab Rat
  76. Portal 1 Ending
  77. Unused GLaDOS Quote: "You know, 50,000 Years is a long time to think..."
  78. Resource "09394469.756\07583916.313"
  79. Resource "07533945.935\09823219.940"
  80. 80.0 80.1 Resource "08041249.801\00366566.522"
  81. Resource "05083881.801\04186850.542"
  82. Apertures with different F-numbers
  83. "Aperture" definition on The Free Dictionary
  84. Schematics of different aperture positions in a camera lens on the University of Victoria website