When Albert Einstein applied for a job at the IPI

Exactly 120 years ago today, the world-famous physicist applied for a job at the Intellectual Property Office (now IPI) in Bern.

Albert Einstein’s job application (facsimile) He listed his previous experience in an objective, matter-of-fact manner. Copyright: IPI

The job advertisement for a patent examiner was published in the Swiss Federal Gazette on 11 December 1901. As a ‘class 3 technical expert’, he would earn 3,500 to 4,500 Swiss francs per month, based on the advertisement.  Einstein’s application was successful.


‘The worldly cloister’

The young man examined inventions for their patentability at his standing desk in room 86 of the Intellectual Property Office, which was located at the corner of Speichergasse and Genfergasse in Bern. For Einstein, the patent office was ‘the worldly cloister where I hatched my most beautiful ideas’. He experienced his most creative period in physics here. In 1905 alone – in his ‘annus mirabilis’ – the then 26-year-old published five works that turned the prevailing world view of physics on its head.


(Kopie 22)


In autumn 1909, Einstein moved on

To the regret of his superiors, Albert Einstein left the office in the autumn of 1909 to take over the chair for theoretical physics at the University of Zurich. Pictures in today’s IPI commemorate the famous staff member. The cafeteria is called ‘E=mc2afé’, based on his legendary formula.


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