Buying a computer system/new computer hard copy set up guide?
Bob, this will sound silly, but keep in mind I'm no techie and haven't bought a new computer in 12 years, and it included a bunch of manuals back then. But when I bought other electronics more recently, like a monitor or digital camera, they didn't. The instructions were either on a CD or online. Since being connected is necessary before being able to view a CD or go online, it seems they would have to provide some kind of hard copy set up guide, or do they? Thanks
Generally newer electronics will include brief set-up or "getting started" guides, but leave bulky user manuals on CDs (which should be locally accessible, that is they do not require anything to be downloaded from the Internet) or via the company's website. This is done to save paper primarily. Some manufacturers may allow you to request a print manual by mail, but this is probably not the most common feature.
As far as newer computers, they will generally have extensive documentation included "on" them, for example Windows' Help and Support center has considerable documentation about using and maintaining Windows. Most other software will be documented online, or include documentation with its installation (e.g. readme files, man pages ("manual pages"), etc).
It is also relevant to consider that many newer components do quite a bit of automatic configuration, meaning there's generally much less "stuff" that you will need to do to get whatever device working. There may be advanced configuration options that can be changed or modified to better suit your needs or tastes, but usually those things are not required to initially use the device.
If you have questions about a specific component or device, feel free to ask.
Also, I'm providing this information as you mention that your computer is quite old:
Windows XP has been officially End-Of-Life since early 2014, and will not be receiving additional security or stability updates; it is advisable to upgrade to a newer version of Windows or some other operating system that will receive such updates (depending on the computer's hardware configuration, it may need to be upgraded or replaced in order to effect this). If you're using an Apple computer instead of a Windows machine, it may not be Intel-based, and as a result would also be in the same boat for lack of updates, and you should strongly consider replacement with an Intel-based machine.
If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.