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The Bizarre Parental Control Device You Never Knew Existed For The NES

Parental controls are nothing new in society, whether it's policies such as the ESRB or movie ratings discouraging a younger audience from seeing things they shouldn't or the more physical examples such as covers on light sockets or locks on cabinets.


Nintendo is no stranger to developing tools for parents to monitor kids' gaming activities. The most recent and glaring example was the inception of "Friend Codes" on the Wii back in 2006. This system generates a unique code for your console, and the only way to add friends to your list would be to share this code. This would, ideally, give parents peace of mind knowing that their child was interacting with a curated friends list instead of strangers. The friend codes system would go on through the 3DS, Wii U, and the Switch.

In the 1980s, the Nintendo Entertainment System was ruling the gaming world and keeping many kids glued to their TVs. This caused some parents to have concerns that children weren't being social or getting outdoors enough. Once chance conversation got the wheels turning on one of the strangest parental control devices in gaming history.


You shall not pass

Safe Care Products, Inc. was founded by Thomas Lowe in the late '80s. This company would invent things like home protection devices and toys. When hearing a friend's concern that his son was spending too much time playing his NES, Lowe got to work. While many parents would simply take the system or controller away, Lowe decided on a more physical solution.


That solution was named Homework First and resembled a bike lock — or something you would see in The Da Vinci Code. Using the dials, the user would input a numbered password, allowing the bolt to be free to then attach to the NES using a hole in the bottom of the system. Then, the numbered dials would reattach to the bolt and lock, or more accurately block, the NES by not allowing games to be inserted. This device would retail for around $20 and was never officially endorsed by Nintendo.

In a sea of crazy peripherals for Nintendo's consoles, Homework First is, quite possibly, the craziest.