I'm not sure you're really reading what I'm saying. I'll do bullet points. - 1 - In Fallout 1 the Vaults are strictly big ass bomb shelters, nothing more or less. - 2 - Fallout 2 first introduces the idea of the Vaults also performing social experiments. - 3 - Fallout 3 goes full retard with it and has the Gary Vault among other. - 4 - New Vegas attempts to build a middle ground from Fallout 2 and Fallout 3 with drastic experiments that are more or less grounded. - 5 - Fallout 4, I have no idea, because I haven't played enough of it to find out. So, in the beginning (your words) meaning Fallout 1, the vaults were absolutely meant to save people. It was only later on that it was retconned.