Babel Fish (website)

Yahoo! Babel Fish
Type of site
Translation service
Owner Yahoo!
Commercial No
Launched December 9, 1997 (1997-12-09)
Current status Defunct

Yahoo! Babel Fish was a free web-based multilingual translation application. In May 2012 it was replaced by Bing Translator, to which queries were redirected.[1] Although Yahoo! has transitioned its Babel Fish translation services to Bing Translator, it did not sell its translation application to Microsoft outright.[2][3] As the oldest free online language translator,[4] the service translated text or web pages between 38 languages,[4] including English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

The internet service derived its name from the Babel fish, a fictional species in Douglas Adams's book and radio series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that could instantly translate languages. In turn, the name of the fictional creature refers to the biblical account of the confusion of languages that arose in the city of Babel.


On December 9, 1997, Digital Equipment Corporation and SYSTRAN S.A. launched AltaVista Translation Service at,[5] which was developed by a team of researchers at Digital Equipment.[4][6] In February 2003, AltaVista was bought by Overture Services, Inc.[7] In July 2003, Overture itself was taken over by Yahoo!.[8]

The web address for Babel Fish remained until May 9, 2008, when the address changed to[9]

As of May 30, 2012, the web address changed yet again, this time redirecting to when Microsoft's Bing Translator replaced Yahoo Babel Fish.[10]

Yahoo! Babel Fish should not be confused with The Babel Fish Corporation founded by Oscar Jofre,[11] which was operated at the URL (created in 1995).[12]

As of June 2013, no longer refers to the Microsoft Bing Translator. Instead, it refers directly back to the main page.

See also


  1. "Welcome Yahoo! Babel Fish users!". Bing Translator blog. 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
  2. "Welcoming Yahoo! Babel Fish users!". Bing Translator blog. 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
  3. "Yahoo's Babel Fish replaced with Bing Translator"., June 3, 2012, Jon Callaham.
  4. 1 2 3 "Yahoo Launches Babel Fish"., April 2006.
  5. "Real-Time Machine Translation on the Internet". May 1998. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  6. Edge, Business (2003-05-15). "BabelFish on the move - Business Edge News Magazine Archives". Retrieved 2012-09-20.
  7. Hansell, Saul (February 19, 2003), "Overture Services to Buy AltaVista for $140 Million", The New York Times
  8. "Yahoo to acquire Overture". July 13, 2003.
  9. "AltaVista history". 1995-12-15. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
  10. "Welcoming Yahoo! Babel Fish users!". Microsoft Translator (and Bing Translator) Official Team Blog. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
  11. "BabelFish continues to grow international presence". March 7, 2003. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  12. "Public Whois of BabelFish". Verisign Registry. Retrieved 2012-07-20.

External links

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