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On my home computer (XP Pro) I created a XP Boot disc on cd.
May be wrong, but if your created the boot disc on another pc it might not work on your laptop.
If you know your drive manufacturer you may be able to get a drive check utility from their website.
If you have any linux discs handy pop one of those in and give it a try. You can run the install up to where it looks for your hard drive and bail out. If it finds it then its possibly just the mbr.
Don't assume you've lost your data, yet.
If the BIOS lists the hard drive then it's (probably) not totally dead, yet.
That should either fix it or provide further clues.
If necessry, you can use Winzip to locate and extract fdisk.exe from the .cab files on the CD.