1Preceding the introduction of a (specific) code, especially a legal code.
2Designating or relating to the era before the active enforcement of the U.S. Motion Picture Production Code in 1934 (the Hays Code); specifically of or relating to certain films of the early 1930s regarded as having promoted a dubious morality.
The U.S. Motion Picture Production Code was developed by William H. Hays, who headed the Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors Association (later the Motion Picture Association of America), to attempt to combat the perceived immorality of Hollywood films. Hays's office produced the Production Code, which stipulated morally appropriate behaviour for films, in 1930, but it had no means of enforcement and films were made which deliberately violated it. In 1934 an amended version appeared, strengthening the restrictions, and requiring all films to receive a certificate of approval before being released.
Early 20th century; earliest use found in North Western Reporter. From pre- + code.