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Timeline

Mar 14, 1879

Albert Einstein Born

Albert Einstein is born in Ulm, Germany, the son of Hermann Einstein, a German-Jewish featherbed salesman, and his wife Pauline.

1884

Mystery of Magnetism

At the age of five, Albert Einstein becomes fascinated by his father's pocket compass, intrigued by invisible forces that cause the needle always to point north. Later in life, Einstein will look back at this moment as the genesis of his interest in science.

1894

Move to Italy

Struggling financially, the Einstein family moves from Germany to Italy in search of better work. Albert, aged fifteen, stays behind in Munich to finish his schooling, but soon either quits or is kicked out of his high school and follows his parents to Italy.

1895

Boarding School in Aarau

Albert Einstein attempts to get out of his last year of high school by taking an entrance exam to ETH, the Swiss Polytechnic University in Zurich. He fails the test, forcing him to attend one final year of high school in the small town of Aarau, Switzerland, instead.

1896

Einstein at ETH

Albert Einstein graduates from high school and begins attending ETH, the prestigious Swiss Polytechnic University in Zurich.

1896

Einstein Renounces German Citizenship

At the age of 17, Albert Einstein renounces his German citizenship to avoid mandatory military service in the German army. For the next four years, he will not be a legal citizen of any nation.

1900

College Graduation

Albert Einstein graduates from ETH with a degree in physics. He tries to find a teaching job, but is unable to obtain work.

1901

Swiss Citizenship

Albert Einstein obtains Swiss citizenship.

1901

Einstein Impregnates Girlfriend

Albert Einstein travels to Italy for a tryst with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Milena Maric, a former classmate at the ETH. He ends up getting her pregnant.

1902

Daughter Born, Put Up for Adoption

Milena Maric gives birth to Leiserl Einstein, Albert's first child. The unwed couple, unable to care for the girl and perhaps ashamed of her illegitimate status, put her up for adoption.

1902

Swiss Patent Office

Unable to find any work as a teacher or academic, Albert Einstein takes a job as a clerk at the Swiss Patent Office.

1903

Einstein Marries Milena Maric

Albert Einstein marries his longtime girlfriend, Milena Maric.

1904

Birth of Hans Albert Einstein

A year after marrying Albert, his wife Milena gives birth to the Einsteins' first son, Hans Albert.

1905

Annus Mirabilis

Over the course of a year that he will later describe as his "Annus Mirabilis"—his miraculous year—Albert Einstein publishes four major theoretical papers in the prestigious German academic journal Annalen Der Physik. The four papers include a groundbreaking new interpretation of the photoelectric effect (for which Einstein will eventually win the Nobel Prize) as well as the first published exploration of the theory of Special Relativity and the first formulation of the famous equation e=mc2.

1910

Birth of Eduard Einstein

Albert Einstein's wife Milena gives birth to their second son, Eduard.

1911

Move to Prague

The Einsteins move to Prague, where Albert assumes his first full professorship after many years working at the Swiss Patent Office or teaching in part-time positions in Switzerland.

1912

Move Back to Zurich

After just a year in Prague, the Einsteins move back to Switzerland, to where Albert takes professorship at his alma mater, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

1914

Director of Kaiser Wilhelm Institute

Albert Einstein moves to from Zurich to Berlin to become the director of the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. His marriage to Milena begins to unravel, and his wife and children decide to stay behind in Zurich. They will never live together as a family again.

1915

General Theory of Relativity

Einstein completes his General Theory of Relativity.

1919

Divorce and Remarriage

After several years of estrangement, Albert divorces his first wife Milena Maric and immediately remarries. Einstein's second wife, Elsa Lowenthal, is a cousin with whom he fell in love when she nursed him back to health following a serious illness in 1917.

1919

Restoration of German Citizenship

At the close of World War I, Albert Einstein regains his German citizenship in a gesture of solidarity with liberal new government of the Weimar Republic.

May 29, 1919

Eclipse Proves Theory of Relativity

A solar eclipse provides dramatic observable evidence that Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is correct. Einstein suddenly becomes a worldwide celebrity.

1921

Nobel Prize

Albert Einstein wins the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the photoelectric effect, first published in 1905.

1933

Escape from Nazi Germany

Albert Einstein and his family, fearing anti-Semitic persecution, flee from Nazi Germany to resettle in the United States. Einstein takes a post at Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, where he will remain until his death in 1955.

1936

Death of Elsa Einstein

Albert Einstein's second wife Elsa dies of sudden illness.

1939

Letter to President Roosevelt

Fearing that Nazi scientists might win the race to develop the world's first atomic bombs, Albert Einstein writes a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging him to launch an American program of nuclear research.

1940

US Citizenship

For the third time in his life, Albert Einstein changes his nationality, becoming a United States citizen while also retaining his Swiss citizenship.

Apr 18, 1955

Death of Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein dies of heart failure at the age of 76.

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