Yahoo! Babel Fish
Type of site
Translation service
LaunchedDecember 9, 1997; 26 years ago (1997-12-09)
Current statusDefunct

Yahoo! Babel Fish was a free Web-based machine translation service by Yahoo!. In May 2012 it was replaced by Bing Translator (now Microsoft 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 in 36 pairs between 13 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 (DEC) and SYSTRAN S.A. launched AltaVista Translation Service at,[5] which was developed by a team of researchers at DEC.[4][6] In February 2003, AltaVista was bought by Overture Services, Inc.[7] In July 2003, Overture, in turn, was taken over by Yahoo!.[8]

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

In 2012, the Web address changed again, this time redirecting to when Microsoft's Bing Translator replaced Yahoo Babel Fish.[10]

As of June 2013, no longer redirects to the Microsoft Bing Translator. Instead, it refers directly back to the main page.[11]

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. ^ a b c "Yahoo Launches Babel Fish"., April 2006. 28 April 2006.
  5. ^ "Babelfish: English". 1999-04-27. Archived from the original on 1999-04-27. Retrieved 2018-07-22.
  6. ^ "BabelFish on the move - Business Edge News Magazine Archives". 2003-05-15. Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. 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. Archived from the original on July 8, 2007.
  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. ^ "Yahoo! Babelfish - redirects to Yahoo!". Archived from the original on 2006-05-04. Retrieved 2023-12-02.