No special card necessary at all. Just as you did: plug it in and install the drivers the new hardware wizards prompts you for. Or install the drivers from the CD and then plug in. For the average parallel printer the sequence doesn't really matter in my experience; but you might have a look in the installation guide or user guide that surely is on the CD to see what they say about it.
If the test page prints OK when run with the buttons on the printer, and all cables are rightly connected and there's no problem in Device Manager with the printer and still you get an error message like "printer not connected" when printing (both a test page and a normal page) it's time to dive into the user guide again and read the troubleshooting pages.
But it might well be that the printer is somehow defective hardwarewise. Why not ask your neighbor to show it still works with him?
I currently have a dell dimension with windows XP. I recently became the owner of a epson 1500 laser printer. the neighbor gave me everything he had in a shopping bag and wished me luck. I installed it with what seemed no problem all and and installed the drivers ok. I was replacing a dell printer. when I went to run a test page on the laser printer it wouldn't print the page. I did a test page sucessfully on the laser printer by running it independently from the computer. it's just when I connect it to the windows XP dell system that I have problems.
The printer is hooked up with parallel cables and the computer treats it like an unconnected printer. I called epson and they can't figure it out as to what is happenning. Does a laser printer need a special print card inserted where the other one currently is? any help on this is greatly appeciated thanks