1953 – 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.”
The Heimlich Counter-Maneuver – A reliable technique for interrupting the life-saving Heimlich Maneuver.
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 healthy adults.
“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.”
– 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.