You may have a faulty USB port. Typically they feed 200 MA worth of voltage (5 Volts). I've seen some older laptops experiencing issues. Does everything else you attach via the single port get recognized? Have you tried a "Powered" USB hub to help rule out the amperage draw issue? Other laptop with multiple ports (But not yours because you said you had one port) supply more amperage to the ports closest to the system board. I had a Toshiba protégé 3500 that I could only use the far rh port in order for my active sync to recognize the attached device.
Trying to drink the BB coolaid, It tastes funny?