Spent hours last night researching on how to fix the desktop computer -- thus no post. The previous night I'd found a site from which to download files for a quick boot from floppy disk. Yesterday at work I created the disk (took one minute). I was eager to get home and try it, but first I took a nap and went to the gym and the grocery store. When I got back, I tried it (repeatedly) and it didn't work. Damn! Then it was back to the drawing board.
It looks like I need a Windows XP installation CD. I've searched the house (repeatedly) for it, to no avail. But last night I found what I hope are valuable telephone numbers for Microsoft and Compaq and will call on Monday to try to get a copy sent to me (don't really know whether I ever had one in the first place -- I guess it would have been inserted into the Windows XP manual, which I don't have either). Last night I located the Windows XP Certificate of Authenticity on my Compaq and wrote down the Product Key number, model number and serial number.
I also looked into Geek Squad. A house call would cost at least $250. Meanwhile, I'll continue to get this fixed on my own. I'm OK with my backup computer for now, but there are files and software on the desktop that I don't want to lose. If it weren't for that, I would use the Compaq Recovery CD and just wipe the disk clean and start over.