Prior to the most famous interpreters of the Americas: Pocahontas and Sacagawea, the invention that permitted the mass translation of the most prolific books of history took Europe by storm. Johannes Gutenberg invented the moveable type printing press in the middle of the 15th century and in doing so paved the way for works to be easily distributed to a wider audience, rather than the previously limited access to books (typically only affordable to the aristocratic elite).
While Gutenberg’s invention is obviously not a translator in and of itself, it was able to dramatically cut down the cost of books, removing the need of a scribe to handwrite every copy of the book. This cost-saving initiative was even more noticeable when dealing with translated works. While most books went from the author to the scribe to the reader, translated works went from the author to the scribe to the translator to the scribe to the reader. These extraneous steps made acquiring translated books for niche demands very unlikely and extremely expensive. Gutenberg’s removal of the need for a scribe for each copy allowed for books to be generally distributed much easier and with those books, translated volumes.
The increased availability of translated works propagates upon itself. When more translated works are available, more people read these works, consequently creating a larger cultural phenomenon that then demands more of these translated works. This is clearly seen with the spread of the Bible in this time period, Guttenberg allowed for missionaries to print and distribute thousands of copies of the Bible and spread Christianity to the literate populations of host countries.
Gutenberg’s invention had a groundbreaking effect on the copying of all books, but when it comes to translated works, his invention (and derivatives of it), has translated more works than any human could have possibly imagined. This is one of if not the most significant invention in the history of translation services.