I came of age regarding learning Japanese in the mid-nineties. Mangajin was on its way out (I discovered that grand magazine a month before they ceased publishing!) and denshi jishos (electronic dictionaries) were on their way in. Big time.
When I finally made it to Japan in 1998, everyone had or wanted one.
You'd see them everywhere. Gaijin at the library with a stack of books and on top of the stack, a denshi jisho. Gaijin at the super market squinting their eyes and looking up ingredients on their dictionary. It was all very fun.
But time consuming.
Nowadays, some apps can use your phone's camera to grab kanji and look it up in less than a second. Back in the day (you know, the days when we old folks had to go uphill to school both ways and in knee-high snow in the summer), you had to look things up by the radical or guess at one of the pronunciations. Definitely doable, but that meant sometimes (especially for beginners), it took time.
My first denshi jisho was the Canon Wordtank IDX-9500. (You can read all about the Wordtank here.)
I loved that thing. I think I left it on a plane some time in 2000 or so. It was so sad. But it went bye-bye and I bought a Seiko or Sharp model. It just wasn't the same...
Everybody had a Canon Wordtank in those days.
But there was another model that gave beginners a thrill. That would be the Seiko RM2000:
It was the only good dictionary that had Romanized Japanese. And it was cheap. Later, once we started stocking the RM2000 at TJS, we sold tons of these. But then they discontinued the dictionary. Suddenly. I still don't know why. It was a good five or six years before the iPhone came out and at least on TheJapanShop.com, it sold amazingly well.
I mention all this, because today I received a used Casio XD-GW9700.
This was pretty much the last of the great dictionaries before the smart phones almost made them obsolete. I say almost, because some dictionaries like the Casio have professional grade dictionaries that are still good--great--today.
If you are interested, check it out here. I only have one, but it works great and comes with a case.