I've seen this before, especially in systems that are constantly disconnected and reconnected to external displays, projectors, etc. The problem is one of static. As a veteran of doing presentations myself I became constantly aware of static discharges, especially when connecting my projector. To prevent a discharge from going directly to one of the VGA pins, while plugging in the video cable from the projector to the laptop I would always take the ground part of the connector on the end of the cable and touch it to the jackscrews on either side of the mating laptop connector first, thereby dissipating any potential voltage directly to the laptop chassis ground. I have no doubt in my mind that this precaution saved my external output on several occasions where very large sparks were visible.
Unfortunately if this is the case, the only feasible repair is to replace the board, if not the entire system. But at least with this knowledge you can at least prevent it from happening again in the future.
He doesn't want to buy a new computer for this because he said that the new computers display everything in wide screen and he needs the old standard aspect ratio that non-wide screen displays provide...
That is a non-issue. You can simply set the external as the main display and still display on both the external and internal displays simultaneously. In that case both displays will run at the native resolution and aspect ratio (i.e. 4:3) of the external display. Scott.