Albert later in life related the story that at age five, his father showed him a pocket compass. Young Einstein realized that something in "empty" space affected the needle. He said the experience was one of the most revelatory of his life.
About a year later, Albert's education began. Besides the violin lessons his mother insisted on, he also received religious education at home. Two years later, he began school at the Luitpold Gymnasium and after that, his religious training was also taught there.
Although he was clever and built models and mechanical devices for fun, he was also considered a slow learner. It's possible he was dyslexic, or it could have been just shyness. He was good mathematics, in particular the calculus, and did not fail these subjects as has been often reported.
In 1894, the Einsteins moved to Italy, but Albert stayed in Munich. The following year, he failed an exam, which determined whether he could study for a diploma in electrical engineering at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zurich. In 1896, he renounced his German citizenship, not becoming a citizen of any other country until 1901. Also in 1896 he entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics, receiving his degree in 1900.
After trying unsuccessfully to obtain employment at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule and other universities, he finally took a temporary job as a mathematics teacher at the Technical High School in Winterthur. This was followed by another temporary position teaching in a private school in Schaffhausen. Finally, the father of a friend helped him find a position as a technical expert third class at the patent office in Bern. He held this job from 1902 to 1909, receiving a promotion to technical expert second class in 1906.
Albert and Mileva Maric, a mathematician, had a daughter Lieserl, born in January, 1902. (What eventually happened to Lieserl is not know. It's possible she died in infancy or was put up for adoption.) The couple wasn't married until 1903. On May 14, 1904, the couple's first son, Hans Albert Einstein was born. (Hans eventually became a professor of hydraulic engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He had very little interaction with his father.)
It was during these years when his prolific writing of theoretical physics publications began. He also earned a doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1905 for a thesis On a new determination of molecular dimensions.
The first of Albert Einstein's three 1905 papers looked at a phenomenon discovered by Max Planck. Planck's discovery indicated that electromagnetic energy seemed to be emitted from radiating objects in discrete quantities. This energy was directly proportional to the frequency of the radiation. Previously, Maxwell's equations and the laws of thermodynamics assumed that electromagnetic energy consisted of waves which could contain any small amount of energy. Einstein's paper used Planck's quantum hypothesis for the description of the electromagnetic radiation of light.
Einstein's second 1905 paper laid the groundwork for what would eventually become Einstein's best known legacy, the special theory of relativity. Using a reinterpretation of the classical principle of relativity, which said that the laws of physics had to have the same form in any frame of reference, Einstein proposed that the speed of light remained constant in all frames of reference, as required by Maxwell's theory. Later that year, as an extension of his theory of relativity, Einstein showed how mass and energy were equivalent. While not the first to propose all the components of special theory of relativity, he was the first to unite important parts of classical mechanics and Maxwell's electrodynamics.
His final paper of that important year dealt with statistical mechanics.