Vault-Tec Corporation is the corporation that was contracted by the United States government to design and construct the vault system. A vault is a large, underground, self-sustainable and highly technologically advanced nuclear fallout shelter, part of "Project Safehouse" designed to protect American citizens in case of a nuclear holocaust and to give them the opportunity to repopulate the Earth after the attacks.
Not much is known about how Vault-Tec was founded, and it is unclear of the corporation existed before it was contracted by the government. It is also unclear when Project Safehouse was initiated by the U.S. government. Non canon information from the cancelled Fallout Van Buren indicates that Vault-Tec was already testing it's recycling and water purification systems in Tibbets Prison in 2040. The first canon record of Vault-Tec dates to 2053, when Vault-Tec brings online ZAX 1.0, a prototype of a supercomputer designed to govern the vaults. In 2054 the U.S. government officially announces Project Safehouse, in light of the European-Middle Eastern War and the Great Plague scare. Construction of the first vaults begins in late 2054, a demonstration vault is unveiled in Los Angeles. An extensive commercial campaign was set up, using advertisements and products, as well as an exhibit in the Museum of Technology in Washington D.C. Most vaults were completed by 2063, the last vault was completed by 2074.
Project Safehouse and the Societal Preservation Program
Officially the vaults were part of Project Safehouse, intended to protect American citizens from a nuclear holocaust, however they actually had a more sinister purpose, a project known as "the Societal Preservation Program".
In actuality, the vaults were never intended to save anyone. The true reason for the construction of the vaults was to allow the government to secretly study pre-selected segments of the American population, observe how they would react to the stresses of isolation, and how successfully they would re-colonize the devastated Earth after the vault opened.
In addition, most vaults were designed to conduct often immoral experiments on live human test subjects. The experiments carried out in each vault varied. For instance, Vault 12 had a vault door that was designed to not close properly, to study the effects of radiation that would leak inside the vault, Vault 27 was deliberately overcrowded and contained double the sustainable amount of inhabitants (2000 instead of a 1000), in Vault 29 only people under the age of 15 were allowed in, Vault 34 was overstocked with weapons and unrestricted access to them as well as an abundance of recreational facilities (a swimming pool) which took away a lot of potential living space, Vault 53 had most of its equipment designed to break down every few months, to stress the inhabitants, Vault 101 was intended to never open, in Vault 106 psychoactive drugs were released into the ventilation system, in Vault 108 all residents were a clone of a man named Gary, Vault 77 contained only one dweller who was given a crate with puppets to play with etc. Of the 122 vaults constructed by Vault-Tec, 17 were control vaults that functioned properly.
Vault-Tec after the Great War
The world was affected by a nuclear holocaust eventually, on 23 October 2077, the world was destroyed in only three hours, called the Great War. On that day Project Safehouse and the Societal Preservation Program were initiated and the vaults closed. Most vaults closed with less than their full capacity of inhabitants, because the air raid alarms were widely ignored because of the cry wolf effect.
hundreds of years later, when the stories of the fallout games take place, the player often discovers the ruined vaults, either abandoned, or infested with the results of the experiments.
- Vault-Tec vaults and most of their equipment, such as the hydraulic doors, ventilation systems, water purifiers, medical equipment etc.
- ZAX supercomputers
- GECK (Future-Tec)
- VATS (Pip-Boy 3000)
- Promotional items
Behind the Scenes
The vault experiment was an idea created by Tim Cain during the initial stages of Fallout 2 development.
- Even if the vaults were only part of Project Safehouse they could not have saved the entire population of the United States. The U.S. had about 400 million inhabitants around 2077, every vault was designed to house 1000 residents, therefore over 400,000 vaults would have been needed.
- Most of the known experiments eventually exterminated all of the vaults inhabitants, except for vault 101, that was designed to never open, and vault 112 that continues to successfully run a virtual reality.
- Vault-Tec's known control vaults prove that Project Safehouse was a very feasable project. These vaults were intended to open after it was deemed safe on the surface, often resulting in a thriving community such as Vault City or Shady Sands.
- Vault 76, although not much is currently known about it - is a control vault and as far as we know the inhabitants survived. more will be known at the launch of fallout vault 76.