PICAXE microcontrollers are PIC microcontrollers with built in BASIC interpreter developed by Revolution Education. These are great for educational purposes and for microcontroller starters. Despite their simplicity and purpose they can successfully used in any level projects like robotics, data acquisition and embedded control. And they are cheap.
JRHackett gives a simple intro in to these microcontrollers and provides sample example of blinking LED program written in ASIC language. Programming Editor is free to download. It provides ability to program Picxe by writing BASIC code or simply drawing flowcharts. Program can be downloaded via serial cable automatically when running program. Good luck with first steps.