Albert Einstein was born in 1879 at Ulm, Württemberg, Germany. When Einstein was five, his father showed him a pocket compass, and Einstein realized that something in "empty" space acted upon the needle; he would later describe the experience as one of the most revelatory of his life. As a child, though he built models and mechanical devices for fun, he was considered a slow learner, possibly due to dyslexia, simple shyness or the significantly unusual structure of his brain (as seen following his death). He later credited his development of the theory of relativity to this slowness, saying that by pondering space and time later than most children, he was able to apply a more developed intellect.
Einstein began to learn mathematics at about age 12. There is a recurring rumor that he failed mathematics later in his education, but this is untrue; a change in the way grades were assigned caused confusion years later.
His failure of the liberal arts portion of the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (Federal Swiss Polytechnic University, in Zurich) entrance exam the following year was a setback; he was sent by his family to Aarau, Switzerland, to finish secondary school, and received his diploma in 1896. In 1900, he earned a teaching diploma at the Swiss Polytechnic University and became a Swiss citizen in 1901.
Upon graduation, Einstein could not find a teaching post and instead started to work at the Swiss patent office. He judged the worth of inventors' patent applications for devices that required knowledge of physics to understand. He obtained his doctorate after submitting his thesis, "On a new determination of molecular dimensions," in 1905.
That same year, he wrote four articles that provided the foundation of modern physics, despite the fact that he had little scientific literature to refer to and few scientific colleagues with whom to discuss his theories. Most physicists agree that three of those papers (on Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect and special relativity) were worthy of a Nobel Prize. Only the paper on the photoelectric effect would win, in 1921.
In December 1932, after learning he was a target of the Nazi party, Einstein moved to the United States and accepted a position at the newly formed Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, where he remained for the rest of his career. In 1940 he became a U.S. citizen. In 1946 he helped to form the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, which worked to control the atom bomb. He was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and actively campaigned for civil rights for African Americans.
Albert Einstein was much respected for his kind and friendly demeanor rooted in his pacifism. He occasionally had a playful sense of humor, and enjoyed playing the violin and sailing. He was also the stereotypical "absent-minded professor"—he was often forgetful of everyday items, such as keys, and would focus so intently on solving physics problems that he would often become oblivious to his surroundings.
At age 76, he suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm while preparing to give a speech. He refused surgery, stating, “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.” He died, in Princeton, early the next morning, on April 18, 1955.
Confidence. Pass It On!
This billboard about Confidence features Albert Einstein (1879-1955); theoretical physicist, intellectual.
Download Backstory PDF
Pass It On®
Michael Sullivan from Red Top Middle School SEPTEMBER 16, 2021
I like the sound this. I can find his story near the bathrooms.
Anonymous APRIL 3, 2019
This was at the corner of my homework
Tommie from Virginia JUNE 25, 2018
Saw this today on I-95 in SC near Florence. Love it!
Anonymous FEBRUARY 14, 2018
Nicely done ✅
Anonymous FEBRUARY 14, 2018
Albert is genius
Anonymous OCTOBER 7, 2017
waylon AUGUST 31, 2017
hunter from milltown SEPTEMBER 23, 2016
how long has that bilboard ben up there
hunter from milltown SEPTEMBER 23, 2016
how old are you
Tina from Split, Croatia. SEPTEMBER 19, 2016
Albert Einstein was a great person.I love his qoutes.
Mary from Wisconsin AUGUST 28, 2016
I teach Gifted and Talented students and would love this for my classroom! Great Posters.
Gail from Bryn Mawr Pa. JULY 17, 2016
what a great picture! It just shows that a kid will be a kid, regardless of who he grows up to be. I'd like to frame this!
Hi APRIL 26, 2016
He is awesome
Alejandro APRIL 26, 2016
He is genius
Anonymous MARCH 28, 2016
THis is awesome
bella from sacramento MARCH 3, 2016
Mariela from Weslaco, Texas FEBRUARY 1, 2016
He inspired a lot of people to do a lot of great things
John from Hilliard, OH JANUARY 17, 2016
Truly a man ahead of his time.
jim from Cape G. , Mo. NOVEMBER 19, 2015
Perfect picture for a amazing person.
Anonymous NOVEMBER 2, 2015
Albert has the nmost confidence I have ever seen. He is inspirational in many ways. Einstein is one of the most interesting and Important individuals in the world.
gabriel from 332 east Williams ave OCTOBER 21, 2015
i'm doing a Prezzie about him and he is very inspirational!
babayman from lol OCTOBER 8, 2015
i think that i can do anything now that i have raed this story.
Unknown from No OCTOBER 8, 2015
i really like this
unknown from unknown OCTOBER 8, 2015
i have wanted to be like him for a long time
Navea from NC OCTOBER 8, 2015
navea OCTOBER 8, 2015
Ben from Arkansas SEPTEMBER 25, 2015
Ugh. This billboard just went up by my house. Sorry, but Einstein was an Einstein. He had mastered integral calculus before Age 15, before most students even started learning it. To say he wasn't smart as a student is disingenuous.
Brent from Flushing SEPTEMBER 9, 2015
This billboard further perpetuates the myth that he wasn't a good student, he was. Silly point to make, in any regard.
Marissssa from Oregon Kentucky SEPTEMBER 11, 2014
Albert is such an Einstein!
jose from california MARCH 20, 2014
ashley from connecticut MARCH 4, 2014
he is smart
Aubrey from Kansas city NOVEMBER 5, 2013
I wish I was that smart!
aubrey from home OCTOBER 30, 2013
albert einstein is a geinius!!!!!!!!
Teresa from ND AUGUST 28, 2013
I don't think I'll ever be that smart.;D
Jessica from Alabama MAY 17, 2013
.. But as a student, he WAS an "Einstein." He was brilliant in his schooling.
steve from unknown MARCH 25, 2013
Adam Awesome from Connecticut MARCH 18, 2013
Albert Einstein is amazing. I would never come up with E=Mc2 or the Theory of Relativity. I hope to be as smart as him when I am older. He is a genius!
Breaker from Indiana SEPTEMBER 6, 2012
I heard he never really got any good grades in school....
taylor f. from indianapolis,indiana MARCH 22, 2012
He is and interesting person and I like the tongue.
Kaya from Coldwater FEBRUARY 7, 2012
Albert Einstein is awesome. :)
Judy K from SF APRIL 22, 2011
Everyone speaks of confidence as if it were easily accessible. It is easier to be confident outside the self...in someone or something else. But Self Confidence is acquired or learned and usually through the experience of life in general. It is built from belief and challenges, strengthened through love.
Indya Conover from Two Rivers Magnet Middle School FEBRUARY 7, 2011
I really do believe that he could have failed a class before!!!
hannah.m from MI JANUARY 31, 2011
Barb B from Chicago, IL JANUARY 8, 2011
I love that it shows that although he was a genius he was child-like and playful.
Michael P. from Vancouver, BC MARCH 9, 2010
We master the things we love. Find what you love and you will be considered an Einstein.
Conrad C. from Tanzania NOVEMBER 30, 2009
This is great ...I have learned that yes, I can do it.
Jaida A. from Orlando, Florida JULY 23, 2009
I liked this story a lot; it taught me to keep my head up and have confidence in myself.
Angie S. from Sparta, MI MAY 18, 2009
I liked how he started out shy and unable to pass some of his classes. He was also a slow learner and then he turned out to be a genius. He gained confidence and proved a lot of people wrong.
Cody B. from Sparta, Michigan MAY 18, 2009
If you don't have confidence in life you will never accomplish anything. Although Albert Einstein had his issues he still had confidence in himself to achieve unbelievable heights.
VICTORA L.-G. from CANADA APRIL 1, 2009
ELIZABETH YOU ARE SOOOOOOO FUNNY AND YES IT DOES SUIT THE BILLBOARD QUIT NICE!!!
Elizabeth W. from Canada, ON MARCH 25, 2009
I love his picture it really sots the billboard.
Jordan J. from Fort Collins, CO JANUARY 9, 2009
I love the picture. It is a perfect metaphor for confidence, while still being kind. I bet it has caught and held a lot of eyes including my own.
Kai Y. from Atlanta, Georgia SEPTEMBER 24, 2008
I didn't think confidence is something that can be passed on or borrowed. However, a very special mentor once said to me, "You may not have much confidence in yourself right now, but borrow some from me until you get your own." Though I was skeptical at the time, I believe it now — I've never been so full of confidence in my life. I owe this to Dr. Brown (San Diego), who has believed in me long before I ever believed in myself.
Angie W. from Poplar Bluff, MO AUGUST 2, 2008
Just sighted this billboard in NYC thought it was awesome. Wonder which resource room our public schools would have tried to stick Albert Einsein into since he couldn't be pigeon-holed with typically developing kids. How many kids do we "lose" every year because educators can't see past their system?
Teresa T. from New York, New York, USA MAY 2, 2008
One morning I took an alternate route to school.It was the day of a big test that I prepared for but yet was uncertain of my ability. I saw this billboard and really felt the message, I knew that was all I needed--to believe in myself and have confidence. When I am faced with a tough situation I remember this billboard. Thank you-all your billboards are great!!
Dennis O from Bellflower, CA APRIL 18, 2008
As the circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it.
- Albert Einstein -
Samantha Eckard from KY, USA MARCH 24, 2008
This needs to be in every school in the world! Kids need to believe!
Paul from Denver, Colorado USA MARCH 12, 2008
I have been struggling/questioning/doubting my knowledge as a teacher/trainer. During one of these moments, yesterday, I looked up and saw this billboard and laughed, "OK, OK, I get it!"
Eriberto N. from Los Angeles, California USA DECEMBER 16, 2007
Without confidence, no human would have stepped up to the plate, and we wouldn't have all these commodities. I believe confidence is the quality in which one must keep in balance; not to have too much or too little.
Anonymous NOVEMBER 17, 2007
Sighting of this billboard near St. Cloud, Minnesota. My daughter said, "Mom you will love this billboard coming up," and she was right! Working in my classroom late one night looking for inspiration for our staff, I came across this website. Thank you!
Marylee G. from Canby, Minnesota USA NOVEMBER 17, 2007
I just downloaded for our teacher's lounge! THANKS! I am sure it will spark much conversation.
Lokesh L. from Mysore, India NOVEMBER 12, 2007
A confident individual is a sucessful individual because he is confident in his ideas and actions, and he puts his ideas into action in life!
Siyabulela B. from Uitenhage, South Africa NOVEMBER 1, 2007
Confidence is a pillar of strength to a lost soul, a desired to live for those who have lost hope. Be confident because it will keep you going!
Jenni A from Lincoln, NE, USA OCTOBER 15, 2007
I read that Albert Einstein's mother asked him each day after school "Did you ask any good questions today?" I used that approach with my son to encourage discussion about school. One day I asked him and he replied "I didn't have any questions for myself but the other kids didn't understand math today so I asked some for them." Confidence... my son recently graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, a confident Officer, a leader for this nation.
Cheyanna G. from California USA OCTOBER 5, 2007
Everyone always says confidence is key and it really is. Have confidence in yourself and others will have confidence in you too.
Elisabeth M. from Colorado, USA SEPTEMBER 12, 2007
If you go to the resource center section of this website you can order posters for free; or you can print up your own on the downloads page.
Robin C. from USA SEPTEMBER 9, 2007
How can I order this poster of Einstein? Saw it on the street in Chicago and on back to school night at Severna Park High School, (Md.)
Raj D. from India AUGUST 15, 2007
Confidence is the main ingredient of success.
Kim H. from Cincinnati, Ohio USA AUGUST 9, 2007
I saw this one for the first time in Cincinnati. I have seen several more since then. Love them all! Pass it on--we need to change the world one person at a time! Thanks!
Jo Anne C. from Muscle Shoals, Alabama USA JULY 27, 2007
The Billboard relates to me at the start of a school year as a mother with a child with
superior intelligence - that is a behavioral nightmare at school. Thank you for telling the true story!
Amanda W from Springfield, Mo JULY 10, 2007
My eight year old son was recently diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome after struggling with symptoms for years. When asked by his doctor what he would like to be, he smiled big, pointed to the picture of Einstein on the wall, and said, "Him. Then people will know that I really am smart."
Ronnaliza C from Philippines JULY 5, 2007
Be confident, just be yourself and happiness is what you will get.
Anonymous JULY 3, 2007
I love this billboard.
Rowland Y.G. from Jos, Nigeria MAY 15, 2007
I have immortalized Einstein in my heart, he is my invisible source of confidence
Ken from Silver Spring, MD APRIL 25, 2007
The AD at Einstein HS has this poster in his office
Taizo K from Japan APRIL 16, 2007
haha. I am like him in school, but the big difference between me and him is I am not trying to do anything yet.
Carol G. from San Antonio, Texas APRIL 9, 2007
Happiness is what makes life fun!
raksha rana from lainchaur APRIL 8, 2007
without confidence life become worthless
Kristina S. from Denver, Colorado APRIL 6, 2007
i like the tongue
Anonymous MARCH 10, 2007
Indianapolis 465 on the west side
Anonymous MARCH 7, 2007
Confidence is my success, Confidence is my life, Confidence is my Happiness...Every moment in my life I take it with confidence.