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Albert Einstein and the IPI

Albert Einstein is probably the most famous employee of what is now known as the IPI. He began working at what was then known as the patent office in 1902 as a "technical expert – class III" and examined patents for their patentability. Among these were most likely a machine for sorting gravel, a weather station affected by the humidity of the air and an electric typewriter with shuttle-type carrier. For Einstein, the patent office was "that worldly cloister where I hatched my most beautiful ideas". To the regret of his superiors, he finally left the patent office in 1909 to take over the chair for theoretical physics at the University of Zurich.


Physicist and world citizen

Image Albert Einstein at his desk at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property in 1904
Albert Einstein at his desk at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property in 1904 (Photo by Lucien Chavan, 1868-1942)

Albert Einstein was chosen as the most significant person of the 20th century by Time Magazine and is probably the most popular scientist ever. Born in Ulm in Germany on 14 March 1879, Einstein grew up in Munich. He then moved to Switzerland in 1895 where he studied at what is now the ETH in Zurich. In 1901, he became a Swiss citizen. In 1905, at the age of twenty-six, he began his remarkable career while employed at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property (now the IPI) in Bern. He published five ground-breaking papers during what is known as his "annus mirabilis". By the age of 30, he was a professor in Zurich. Seven years later, he went on to publish his famous general theory of relativity. In 1921, he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on quantum theory, and in 1933 he was made a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in the United States, where he continued to work for the rest of his life. He died in 1955. Einstein not only changed the world view of physics, he also made a name for himself through his activism for international understanding and peace.