“’The weather was cold and I was poorly dressed; so my appearance, as I was told afterward, occasioned considerable merriment, and the night operators conspired to “put up a job on the jay from the wild and woolly West.” I was given a pen and told to take the New York No. 1 wire. After an hour’s wait I was asked to take my place at a certain table and receive a special report for the Boston Herald, the conspirators having arranged to have one of the fastest operators in New York send the despatch and “salt” the new man.
“’Without suspecting what was up I sat down, and the New York man started in very slowly. Soon he increased his speed and I easily adapted my pace to his. This put the man on his mettle and he “laid in his best licks,” but soon reached his limit.
“’At this point I happened to look up and saw the operators all looking over my shoulder with faces that seemed to expect something funny. Then I knew they were playing a trick on me, but I didn’t let on.
“’Before long the New York man began slurring his words, running them together and sticking the signals; but I had been used to all that sort of thing in taking reports, so I wasn’t put out in the least. At last, when I thought the joke had gone far enough, and as the special was nearly finished, I calmly opened the key and remarked over the wire to my New York rival:
“‘Say, young man, change off and send with the other foot!’
“’This broke the fellow up so that he turned the job over to another operator to finish, to the real discomfiture of the fellows around me.’
“Friend Adams goes on to tell of other happennings at the Hub:
“’One day Edison was more than delighted to pick up a complete set of Faraday’s works, bringing them home at 4 A.M. and reading steadily until breakfast time, when he said, with great enthusiasm:
“’Adams, I have got so much to do and life is so short, I am going to hustle!’”
“‘Then he started off to breakfast on a dead run.’
“He soon opened a workshop in Boston and began making experiments. It was here that he made a working model of his vote recorder, the first invention he ever patented.
“Edison has told us of this trip to Washington and how he showed that his invention could register the House vote, pro and con, almost instantaneously. The chairman of the committee saw how quickly and perfectly it worked and said to him:
“’Young man, if there is any invention on earth that we don’t want down here, it is this. Filibustering on votes is one of the greatest weapons in the hands of a minority to prevent bad legislation, and this instrument would stop that.’
“The youth felt the force of this so much that he decided from that time forth not to try to invent anything unless it would meet a genuine demand,—not from a few, but many people.
“It was while in Boston that Edison grew weary of the monotonous life of a telegraph operator and began to work up an independent business along inventive lines, so that he really began his career as an inventor at the Hub.