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Frequently asked questions
1. Are there documents regarding Einstein’s period at the federal patent office?
2. What kind of information about Einstein is available at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IGE)?
Any available material is published on our website. The IGE has neither a collection of documents nor a historian who could prepare such materials.
3. Is there a list of the patents Einstein examined?
We can assume that the following patents were personally examined by Einstein (unfortunately, more exact details aren’t available):
- Pat.-Nr. 39561: Gravel sorter (pdf 116 KB)
- Pat.-Nr. 39619: Meteorological station controlled by ambient humidity (pdf 60 KB)
- Pat.-Nr. 39853: Electrical typewriter with shuttle-type carrier (pdf 878 KB)
- Supplementary-Pat.-Nr. 39988 (to main patent Nr. 38853):
Alternative-current commentator motor with short-circuit brushes and opposite-mounted auxiliary coils for spark suppression (pdf 179 KB)
- Objections to Alternative-current commentator motor (pdf 45 KB)
4. When was the IGE established and under which names has it existed?
The IGE was established November, 15 1888. Its official names have been:
1888 to 1979 – Federal Office for Intellectual Property
1979 to 1996 – Federal Intellectual Property Agency
and, as of January 1, 1996 – Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (statutory federal institute with independent legal status)
5. What are the former addresses of the IGE?
- 1888 – 1893 The former institute for the blind in the Lorraine quarter, Bern
- 1893 – 1907 The federal telegraph building on the Speichergasse, Bern (Haus der Kantone today):
Einstein's workplace on the Speichergasse
- 1907 – 1921 The old post office building, Outer Bollwerk, Bern. The building has been razed for the train station and offices of the Swiss Post:
Einstein's workplace at the Bollwerk
- 1921 – 1931 An office barrack constructed during the World War I in the Spitalacker quarter, Bern
- 1931 – 1960 The Kirchenfeld quarter, Bern (location of the Swiss National Library today)
- 1960 – 2007 Einsteinstrasse 2 (formerly called Eschmannstrasse)
- June 2007 – present, Business Park Bern, 65 Stauffacherstrasse, in the Wankdorf Qarter of Bern (www.businesspark-bern.ch).
6. When was Einstein employed at the federal patent office?
Einstein was hired as a technical assistant, level III on June 23, 1902. He earned 3,500 francs per year. When he was promoted to technical assistant, level II on March 10, 1906, his salary increased to 4,500 francs per year. On July 16, 1909 he handed in his resignation and began a position as Professor Extraordinary in theoretical physics at the University of Zurich.
7. Is it possible to visit where Einstein worked on the Spiechergasse?
The building on the Speichergasse is currently used by Swisscom. Einstein's former office has been remodelled. There is nothing to remind us of the famous patent clerk who worked there. The entrance to the building is not public. Einstein's desk in the house at 49 Kramgasse, where he lived from 1903 to 1905, can be visited.
8. Where can I find out more about Albert Einstein and his days in Bern?
There is a vast amount of information available on the internet. The following websites have interesting facts about Einstein’s Bern period:
9. Where can I find Einstein’s complete biography?
Under www.einstein-bern.ch, for example.
10. What is the difference between the patent office and the Federal Office of Intellectual Property, and where was Einstein employed?
Einstein was actually employed at the Federal Office of Intellectual Property, which used to be casually referred to as 'the patent office.' In fact, what is referred to as the Institute of Intellectual Property today, is responsible for all federal matters concerning patents, trademarks, designs and copyrights in Switzerland and it is involved in these areas internationally as well.
This website is maintained as a service of the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property and we make every effort to keep it current. However, we do not guarantee the correctness, completeness or currency of the site’s content or any links provided therein.