Youth (1879–1896)

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm as the son of non-practising Jews, Hermann Einstein and Pauline Koch, on 14 th March 1879. He grew up in Munich where he first attended elementary school and afterwards high school until 1894. When he was 16 he left the high school in Munich and went to his parents in Milan, where he studied on his own to prepare himself for the entrance examination of the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich.

Einstein had neither an university entrance diploma, nor was he 18 years old, both of which were required by the regulations (pdf, 978 kB, German) for acceptance at the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute. However, the director of the Polytechnic Institute, Albin Herzog, on the recommendations of Gustav Maier, a friend of the Einstein family, gave the gifted student permission (pdf, 459 kB, German) to write the exam.

At the beginning of October 1895 Einstein wrote this exam. He obtained the best results in the mathematical- and natural science subjects, but in the linguistic- and historical subjects his achievements were unsatisfactory. His overall result was rated as insufficient. Instead he entered the grammar school (Kantonsschule) in Aargau in order to complete his secondary schooling. Friedrich Weber, physics professor at the Polytechnic Institute, nevertheless invited him to attend his lectures.