I've been working at this institution for about 6 years. One thing thing that I've always found curious is that sometimes—especially after a power outage—we find a PC that won't boot when the power button is pressed. Usually, the fans will spin up, but it won't POST. Our solution is to pull the power cord, press the power button with the computer unplugged, then plug it in and turn it on. It seems more common with Gateway brand PCs than the Dells or HPs that we have around.
Does anybody know what pressing the power button does when the computer is unplugged? I have some vague notion that closing the power button circuit allows some capacitors to discharge or something, but I'd like a firmer answer to offer my users when they ask me what I'm doing.
My best guess as to why fans can spin but it can't POST is that the BIOS is in some non-functional state. I don't know how BIOS stores state, but my best guess is that there is some residual garbage in its registers or something, like the stack pointer isn't starting at 0 maybe?