Okay, let's start at the beginning... What you tried to do may well have screwed up your harddrive a little bit, but there's nothing that can't be solved as of yet (I don't know what else you did to the system, of course - the battery thing sounds a little odd to me...).
First thing: DSL is not an installation CD - to install it, you'd have to run it as a live CD first, the install script works from a running system only. Trouble is, DSL needs a previously formatted partition to be installed to. Besides, how you booted to DSL with only 8MB (or so) of RAM, I don't really know, but it's sort of a nice feat...
What you actually did when you entered "dsl tohd=/dev/hda1" was to try and copy the CD image to HD to be able to run from there - next to installing, that's a nice choice you have with DSL; you'll need a boot disk to achieve that, though. BUT it seems as if you didn't have any HD ready for the task of accommodating that image. You'll have to partition first, and I personally fear that 215MB of harddisk will be a little low, but for "tohd", it's sufficient, so this might be a good choice.
However, you'll have to (re-)partition your hard disk first. I doubt that this'll be doable with a GUI tool - if you've got the capacity to try, I'd recommend the Gparted live CD
, but I don't think it'll run smoothly when DSL doesn't. So, I'd go for console based toolset instead. There are several of them; if you've got a working network connection (or like to try if you have), use Ultimate Boot CD
; or else, any kind of rescue disk will do (like RIP - Rescue Is Possible
which has cfdisk
for partitioning) or you can use TOMSRTBT
if you like, but that might be a little tough to start with. To sum it up: You'll just have to get a minimal system running from RAM to look at your HD and then do the partitioning. You'll need a partition formatted for Linux (ext2/ext3) or FAT32 (not NTFS) to start over. I'd recommend ext2 in this case - it's what DSL would choose by itself.
If you'd like to boot from the floppy instead of from the CD, you'll have to change the BIOS settings concerning the boot chain - choose "floppy" instead of "CD" to achieve that. Then you should be able to use old Windows rescue material, too. But Ultimate Boot CD should do the trick, too. After that, try "tohd=/dev/hda1" again.
If that doesn't work (and I'm pretty sure it won't because you're short on RAM as it is), you might want to try installing a minimal system - for instance by using Debian or Slackware boot disks if you can find them...
The moment you can get DSL up and running, do what is called a frugal install on the hard disk you prepared - that way it shouldn't take up to much space.