Term coined by Raoul de Campo of IbmThomasJayWatsonResearchCenter, and developed by NateEdwards of the same institution, to denote the characteristic of being able to (re)combine things without modifying their internals.
He pointed out that this is a characteristic of most systems that can be said to be "engineered" - if you think about it, this actually covers most manufactured things in the real world!
It wasn't always that way. Before EliWhitney? (1798) manufactured goods were custom made and couldn't be reconfigured without modification. It wasn't until the end of 19th century that interchangeable parts became common. It requires a high level of precision to produce modules that can be reconfigured in this way.
True: BradCox, also, stresses the importance of EliWhitney? - maybe you areBradCox! We definitely have to encourage the same revolution in software!