This was a small adventure. I bought a computer with a parallel port since I've moved to laptops in the last 10 years and never looked back. I live in the silicon valley so getting parts is not a problem, although finding a parallel port cable kinda was.
I just got everything put together running windows XP and the Demo version of Mach3.
Once I realized that you have to disable EStop in order to get Mach3 to do anything, it was all a breeze. For those that don't know, there is an EStop pin that by default [with nothing connected to the parallel port] will report that the emergency stop button has been pressed so Mach3 will not do anything until you address this. Its a wise default for safety reasons but not necessarily obvious if you are just starting out.
At this point I'm just using my Oscilliscope hooked up to a pin and issuing a simple Gcode command. Sure enough I saw what I expected!
I purchased a few stepper drivers from Polulu and this weekend I'll wire them up and test my first working axis. I'll post more pics soon.
I've got a little more info on my blog but this post covers the gist of it.