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If you have hotsynced your Visor with a PC (or Mac), the first time you sync your Visor to that computer, it should restore all the data from the last hotsync to the PDA. This is one big reason that it makes sense to sync your PDA on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, if you never used the hotsync function for your Visor, you may not be able to recover any of your data. This model Handspring Visor requires good batteries or else everything in its memory will randomize and you will lose all stored information. There is a small capacitor in the Visor that provides enough reserve power for about 30-60 seconds when you pull out the batteries. It's for this reason that Palm recommended pulling out only one battery at a time when changing to a fresh set. That minimized the amount of time that the PDA would be without power. That same advice applies equally to Visor PDAs.
I read and followed several troubleshooting articles from the Palm OS site, including these: 34697 26460 31991 10089 26674 10092 10082 Installed Palm OS 4.0.1 30421 3447 25019 10099 36950 887
However, none of those technical articles helped much, except after going through them, my Palm OS desktop started to work after not opening up at all. Still, my Handspring Platinum would not sync with my PC.
What brought success was following these articles:
2630 1409 28618 (Part 1 of 3) 28623 (Part 2 of 3)
In 28263 (part 2) it said to reinstall certain drivers (steps 5, etc.). As soon as I did that, everything started to work just fine and has been ever since.
make sure that you have the Palm Desktop and HotSync Manager 4.1.4E it includes Palm Outlook Conduits. The "E" stands for Extended, meaning that this version of Palm Desktop is intended for devices that have the extended PIM applications.
afterward, use the program PocketMirror to sync your outlook and the handspring device.
Congratulations on your 'first generation' Handspring Visor purchase. While perhaps 'old technology' in the techno world, I am still using mine today. To answer your question, your Visor is simply attempting to 'synch' with your desktop files (to ensure you have the correct data in both places. Your error stems from the fact that the unit is 'searching' for your desktop files to perform that handshake. Like an unanswered telephone; your Visor 'hangs up.' You will need to install the software on your PC. Yes, there is still software out there. ;-)
USB glitch is most likely, depending on which operating system you are using. This is especially common with USB hubs.
If using a hub, try plugging the cradle directly to the computer.
If still having a problem, unplug all USB then use Hardware Manager (in the Control Panel) to delete all USB entries.
Restart the computer and plug one USB back in at a time.
If this does not help, try the forums at www.brighthand.com.