“What’s the easiest (cheapest) way to transfer a C program to a chip?”
Here’s my reply:
It depends on what chip it is.
Most microcontrollers require a programmer. This is a little thing you plug into the USB port that makes it possible to program the chip.
What programmer you need depends on what chip you have.
Here’s an overview of how it works:
Some chips can be programmed directly through the USB port without any programmer.
For example the ATMega32U2.
Unfortunately you can’t plug this chip into a breadboard. But I’ve made a complete tutorial on how to build a circuit with it.
It’s more for those beyond the very beginner stage, but if you’re curious check it out:
Keep on Soldering!
PS! If you have no idea what a microcontroller is, check out this article:
PPS! If you want to start building cool things with electronics — even without any experience — check out my eBook “Getting Started with Electronics”: