At the first Session in May 1952 of the provisional CERN Council, Odd Dahl, a Norvegian specialist in accelerators, was appointed Head of the Study Group in charge of studies and investigations regarding accelerators of particle for energies higher than 1 BeV. The other members of the preliminary group were H. Halfen, W. Gentner, F. K. Goward (Deputy Director), F. Regenstreif, and R. Wideroe.
In 1953 the PS Groups (Magnets, RadioFrequency and Linac) were hosted at Geneva's Institute of Physics. It was decided that the maximum energy of the machine should be 25 GeV.
In 1954 the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) officially came into being. John Adams was appointed as leader of the PS Groups after F. K. Goward's death and Odd Dahl's departure.
In I955 the PS Groups became the PS Division, which included the following groups: Administration (DIR), Theory (TH), RadioFrequency (RF), Magnet (MA), Linac (LIN), Engineering (ENG), Vaccum (VA), Electrical Engineering (EE), Mechanical (ML), Workshop, Stores and Transports.
In November 1957 the staff who had hitherto been accommodated at the Institute of Physics in Geneva moved to Meyrin.
In July 1959 the machine was completed, and in September the first proton beam was circulating in the machine. The PS Division was in charge of construction, commissioning and operation of the PS, targets and beam transport sytems for PS, planning of East experimental area, bubble chamber design and construction, preparation for nuclear physics experiments with PS, operation of liquid hydrogen plants and accelerator research.
In 1960 the PS experimental programme began.
In 1961 the original six divisions of CERN were reorganized into twelve divisions. The PS division, directed by P. Germain, was renamed Machine Proton Synchrotron Division (MPS). Some PS groups became part of newly created divisions: the Drawings Office, Workshop, and Electrical Engineering Groups moved to the Engineering Division (ENG); the Accelerator and Separator Groups moved to Accelerator Research Division (AR). The Propane Group moved to Nuclear Physics Apparatus (NPA); and the Hydrogen Group became part of Track Chambers Division (TC).
In 1966 new departments which remained until 1976 were formed by regrouping the existing divisions. MPS Division was integrated into the PS Department with the Nuclear Physics Apparatus Division (NPA).
In 1968 some groups of MPS Division , such as the Magnet and Ejections groups were transferred into the new Synchrotron Injector (SI) Division, part of the PS Department.
In 1971the construction was approved of a second Laboratory, adjoining the existing site, with a 7 kilometres Super Proton Synchrotron accelerator (SPS).
In 1971 when the Intersecting Storage Rings (ISR) came into operation, the PS took on a new role as the injector for these storage rings and in 1976 it also became the injector for the 400 GeV SPS machine.
In 1976 the two CERN Laboratories were united and the MSC (Machine Synchro-Cyclotron Machine) and MPS (Machine Proton Synchrotron) were amalgamated to form the Proton Synchrotron (PS) Division. The two new PS groups Cyclotron Development (CD) and Cyclotron Operation (COP) were merged to create the SC Group in 1982 (still part of the PS Division).
In 1988 a group in PS Division began to design and build a test facility for CLIC (Compact Linear Collider) at CERN.
In 1989 the PS machine became part of the LEP (Large Electron Positron Collider) Injection scheme.
In December 1990 the Synchro-Cyclotron machine was shut down and its main client, Isotope Separator On-Line Detector (ISOLDE), moved to the PS Booster.
In 2002 the PS division became responsible for the operation of five accelerators which deliver beams of protons, Pb ions and antiprotons either to the SPS for further acceleration or directly to the physics users located in four experimental areas: East Hall, ISOLDE facility, AD area and TOF facility. In addition to its rôle as supplier of all of CERN's beams, the PS Division is responsible for the R&D for possible future facilities at CERN in the post-LHC era.