|"i did not have a recovery disc in the dox when i purchased my emachine. why wasn't one included with my computer??"|
emachines hasn't included recovery disks with their systems for many years. You bought a cheap system. What did you expect ?
On the other hand, Dell is apparently not supplying Recovery disks with their new systems these days either.
"Did follow instructions to create your own when you first got the computer?"
When you don't get Recovery disks with the computer, there is almost always a program already installed on your hard drive by the brand name system builder that you're supposed to use to make yourself a Recovery disk set, while Windows is still working properly. All new computers have had a burner drive for years - all it takes is a small amount of time and the cost of a few disks, yet many people never bother.
You can find out if emachines has Recovery disks available for your model - if your model is not more than about 3 years old, they probably have that, and it/they probably costs a lot less including shipping than an OEM Vista Basic DVD.
Scroll down, click on Recovery Media Purchase Program