There are several microcontrollers similar to the BASIC Atom... I would check out the Parallax BASIC STAMP, PICAXE, BASICX. For someone that is still a bit new at things, I always recommend Parallax... they have incredible customer service and one of the (if not the most) active forums. Their documentation is free to download. They have a bunch of tutorials called "Stamps In Class" that guide you through all sorts of topics (I would recommend the "What's a Microcontroller" for anyone just starting out).