duff cmos battery may cause it not to see HD but possible that HD has seize through non use
I would try remove reseat HD to remake contacts and retry. That disk error sounds terminal as would not be worth fitting a new drive (IDE very small BIOS may not take a large drive) in a machine that old.
Hey, not so much of the 'old' if you don't mind... I'm still using my 7 year old xp dell dimension desktop on a daily basis. Have a 1TB sata HD and another HD with Retail W7 on it (I swap between the two) (I expect comment from rdave13 any time now.. ;-D )
You'll prob find drivers and a service manual etc for the 'old' laptop on Dell support If you want copy of dell xp to reinstall PM me.
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