What is cannibalization?

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Wiki User
2010-04-23 04:40:50

Cannibalization has many definitions, but one of the simplest is

to define it as taking serviceable parts from a thing that does not

work to use them on another thing that does not work to make one

thing that does work. The term probably came into

popular use during WW2 when clever, mechanically adept GI's used

their skills to keep equipment damaged in battle running. The

somewhat grisly origin of the term probably comes from the fact

that when a cannibal eats another human being, he may be said to be

using serviceable parts from one person to keep another person

(himself) running. The process only works on things that have

interchangeable parts.

For a simple example, let's say you have two cars of the same

model and year, but neither runs, but each for a different reason.

One car may have a bad alternator and a good starter, while the

other car has a bad starter but a good alternator. By taking the

good part from either car and replacing the bad part in the other

car, you can get one of the two cars running. You have

"cannibalized" one car to make the other one work. You can extend

this concept further by, say, taking the good tires from the

cannibalized car and replacing the worn tires on the car that now

starts. The process can be repeated almost indefinitely until you

have run out of good parts to replace bad ones.

Another meaning is the process of eating one's own kind.

For other excellent examples and definitions of cannibalization,

see related links.

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