Born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany, Albert Einstein grew up in a secular, middle-class Jewish family. His father, Hermann Einstein, was a salesman and engineer who, with his brother, founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, a company that manufactured electrical equipment in Munich, Germany. His mother, the former Pauline Koch, ran the family household. Einstein had one sister, Maja, born two years after him.
Einstein attended elementary school at the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich. He enjoyed classical music and played the violin. However, he felt alienated and struggled with the rigid Prussian education he received there. He also experienced a speech difficulty, a slow cadence in his speaking where he’d pause to consider what to say next. In later years, Einstein would write about two events that had a marked effect on his childhood. One was an encounter with a compass at age five, where he marveled at the invisible forces that turned the needle. The other was at age 12, when he discovered a book of geometry which he read over and over.