In the beginning there was Babel. And it was useful, liked by many and lived many years. And eventually there was OBabel which never saw the light of day. And OBabel lead to OELib. This was good and open and free. And into this day, what was OELib has become Open Babel (C++) and JOELib (Java) and both will remain free and open.
So maybe it's not an epic story. But it's a continuing one. Open Babel is a commnunity effort -- many thanks to many previous contributors!