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Black screen, blinking cursor and beeping at me

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Hi everyone. Hope you don't end up getting sick of me as I have lots of questions and I have no idea what I'm doing.

My first problem is that I was given a laptop:
HP Compaq nx7400

to clean off. Simple enough, right? I thought it was. But when I initially turned it on, it was on a screen that was asking for a Recovery disc. (I'm not sure, but I'm supposing whomever had it before me tried to run the Recovery Process or something?) Anyhow, so I popped the disc in and away it went... or so I thought. It hung and then it rebooted. When it came back on, it was just a black screen with a blinking underscore cursor in the upper left corner. It will just sit there and blink and then maybe ten minutes of blinking it will start to beep loudly. Honestly, I have no idea... Now it appears as though a few of the laptops I've been given have the same problem.

Can anyone here help me out? LOL Any and all help is apreciated...
Oh and I'm sorry if this is the wrong spot to post this. I'm totally new here.
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First question, does your Laptop have a Hard Disk and if yes is it showing in the BIOS.

Second when you say it beeps, what kind of beeps, one long beep short beeps non stop beep ect.

Third is your cd/dvd rom working properly did you try another boot cd to see if it will read it.

Fourth if you go into the BIOS can you see the temperatures of you cpu to have an idea if it is overheating after a certain time causing the beep.

Finally the recovery Disk you have is it to install Windows or just an add on disk for drivers and applications meaning you would have a recovery partition on the hard disk because when i read on HP sites it specifies that a 8GB partition will be on the hard disk for the system recovery software.

Hope that helps
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