What does it mean when you computer crashes and when you turn it back on it shows you a blank blue screen with a little folder and a question mark in the middle?

What does it mean when you computer crashes and when you turn it back on it shows you a blank blue screen with a little folder and a question mark in the middle? It's a old imac from 1997.

I don't have original discs that it came with.
Then you still can use the second option with the keyboard combo I posted, called "resetting the PRAM."
Also when you way hold the c key down do you mean turn computer off and turn back on holding the c key?
Yes, or you can simply restart. As you don't have the CDs, this isn't on the plate any more.
The internal backup battery is not expensive and, in most iMacs is user-replacable. If yours has a tray-loading optical drive like this one:
it takes a major teardown to replace the internal battery. If this is the case, you'd be better off to leave the computer plugged in all the time; that eliminates the main reason for having a working battery.
If it has a slot-loading optical drive like this one:
things are much easier. The battery is visible through the RAM access door on the bottom of the computer case. The manual:
http://manuals.info.apple.com/en_US/iMacG3_2000UserManual.PDF
has sketches of how to access the RAM and therefore the backup battery. Unfortunately, the pdf on the manual goes up sideways on-screen and the RAM instructions are pretty deep into the manual. It's probably easier to scroll (for a while) to the section on adding RAM and print the applicable pages.
When you work on the battery, some sort of non-conductive pliers or large tweezer or forceps help unless you have tiny fingers. Make sure to note the polarity of the old battery and install the new one in the same orientation.
The battery itself is readily available. If price is no oblect, you can get it for a small rasom from Radio Shack Store ("Tandy" outside the US) as part number 23-026.
Online, they are dirt-cheap even after adding shipping. I buy backup batteries form this outfit:
3.6v Newer Technology Lithium 1/2 AA PRAM Computer Clock Battery

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