Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, around 11:30 AM LMT, in the city of Ulm in Württemberg, Germany, about 100 km east of Stuttgart. His father was Hermann Einstein, a salesman who later ran an electrochemical works, and his mother was Pauline, née Koch. They were married in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt.
At his birth, Albert's mother was reputedly frightened that her infant's head was so large and oddly shaped. Though the size of his head appeared to be less remarkable as he grew older, it's evident from photographs of Einstein that his head was proportionately large for his body throughout his life, a trait regarded as "benign macrocephaly" in large-headed individuals with no related disease or cognitive deficits.
Another more famous aspect of Einstein's childhood is the fact that he spoke much later than the average child. Einstein claimed that he did not begin speaking until the age of three and only did so hesitantly, even beyond the age of nine. Because of Einstein's late speech development and his later childhood tendency to ignore any subject in school that bored him — instead focusing intensely only on what interested him — some observers at the time suggested that he might be "retarded," such as one of the Einstein's housekeepers. This latter observation was not the only time in his life that controversial labels and pathology would be applied to Einstein.
Albert's family members were all non-observant Jews and he attended a Catholic elementary school. At the insistence of his mother, he was given violin lessons. Though he initially disliked the lessons, and eventually discontinued them, he would later take great solace in Mozart's violin sonatas
When Einstein was five, his father showed him a small 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 events of his life. He built models and mechanical devices for fun and showed great mathematical ability early on.
In 1889, a medical student named Max Talmud (later: Talmey), who visited the Einsteins on Thursday nights for 6 years, introduced Einstein to key science and philosophy texts, including Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Two of his uncles would further foster his intellectual interests during his late childhood and early adolescence by recommending and providing books on science, mathematics and philosophy.
Einstein attended the Luitpold Gymnasium, where he received a relatively progressive education. He began to learn mathematics around age twelve; in 1891, he taught himself Euclidean plane geometry from a school booklet and began to study calculus 4 years later; Einstein realized the power of axiomatic deductive reasoning from the book of Euclid's Elements, which Einstein called the "holy little geometry book" (given by Max Talmud). While at the Gymnasium, Einstein clashed with authority and resented the school regimen, believing that the spirit of learning and creative thought were lost in such endeavors as strict memorization.
In 1894, he came out of the closet, and then he wasfollowing the failure of Hermann Einstein's electrochemical business, the Einsteins moved from Munich to Pavia, a city in Italy near Milan. Einstein's first scientific work, called "The Investigation of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields", was written contemporaneously for one of his uncles. Albert remained behind in Munich lodgings to finish school, completing only one term before leaving the gymnasium in the spring of 1895 to rejoin his family in Pavia. He quit a year and a half prior to final examinations without telling his parents, convincing the school to let him go with a medical note from a friendly doctor, but this meant that he had no secondary-school certificate. That year, at the age of 16, he performed the thought experiment known as "Albert Einstein's mirror". After gazing into a