A man who was never quite the man he used to be was given a chance to re-shape himself, by the man who has shaped his life.
On the first anniversary of the birth date of the first computer, a man who’d once been called a ‘lunatic’ has been granted a special role by the British government as part of a programme to help children with autism.
He is called Daniel Williams and he lives in South Wales.
The man’s story is told in the first documentary to be made about the birth and life of the computer, “The First Electronic”.
Williams is a former schoolboy who was diagnosed with autism when he was eight.
He was given his first computer when he became 16 and had no idea what it was.
The computer, called the Atari, was a “virtual boy”, said Williams, who lives in a caravan park in South Yorkshire.
Williams and his family were moved to the Welsh town of Caerphilly when he got his first internet connection in 2002, when his mother, who is now in her 80s, gave birth to their son, Daniel.
His mother, Barbara Williams, says that as a result of her early work, Daniel’s mother died of ovarian cancer, and she never really recovered.
Now he is an internet user, working at the University of Caernarfon and a lecturer in the Digital Media and Games programme at Cardiff University.
His life has changed dramatically since his diagnosis.
He now has a new job, runs a computer club in Caernars, has a wife and two daughters, and has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
Williams says he has struggled with his mental health for the past decade and has lost his faith in God.
He has also had multiple mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
He says he is often unable to work out what he is doing.
In fact, his computer has stopped working.
But when he had a look at his own computer, he realised he had built a life for himself, Williams said.
“I thought I’d put my work in there, and then I realised I didn’t have anything left in there.”
Williams was born in Caerconagh in the early 1990s, and grew up in Caen, a remote community in the north of Wales.
He had to move to Caernarries when he arrived at the age of three.
“My mother died when I was six and I spent all my time with my sister,” he said.
He was diagnosed as autistic in the late 1980s and went on to be diagnosed with a range of other diagnoses, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and conduct disorder.
“But it was never the diagnosis that put me on the path to having autism, and I always tried to look at it from the opposite side,” he added.
In 1995, when he graduated from Caerfonagh High School, he was diagnosed by a GP with autism spectrum disorders.
He struggled with it for a while, until he met his future wife, Barbara, and the couple decided to move their family to the nearby town of Blyth.
“We got married in 1997 and had two children,” he recalled.
“Then we had a divorce.
We moved to Caerporth, and we just kept doing what we wanted.”
Williams’s wife Barbara, who was then working as a teacher, took him in.
She had a very different perspective on his life, and in 1999 she had her own child, Daniel, born a girl.
He credits Barbara for the huge impact her mother had on him.
“She was the mother of my life,” he told Al Jazeera.
“There are no words to describe it.”
Williams had been living at home with Barbara for almost five years before he moved to a caravan parks, but he says it was Barbara’s vision for the future that convinced him to get his own home computer.
“When I had Daniel, Barbara was the person who convinced me to get my own computer,” he continued.
“Barbara was the one that told me that computers are the future and that they can help to give people the independence they need to achieve more.”
In 2001, Williams bought a computer from a local computer shop for around £400 and had a new home computer installed for the first time at the end of 2002.
Williams now runs his own web site called “The Boy Who Made Computer”.
“My website is a testament to the fact that I am not just a computer geek,” he explained.
“I am a computer user.
I use computers for my own personal and professional development.”
The BBC has released the first episode of the documentary.
Follow Al Jazeera’s coverage of the UK’s birthday celebrations with a look back at the year.