There are several tools needed to get started in programming the PICs. I’ll briefly cover some software to develop in and hardware to load the chip.
I use the MPLab package by Microchip. It’s an excellent IDE and is available free for download at their site.
As I go through examples I will introduce specific features of MPLab, I find this the easiest way to do it, rather than listing them out and assuming you’ll get em right away…
On the hardware end is the actual device to send the data to the chip! For this I use kit 96 from www.kitsrus.com. It is a P16PRO compatible programmer, is quite easy to build, and looks pretty nice once it’s put together, a quality product. There is software available for it at www.picallw.com, and costs a mild registration fee to fully program anything beyond a 16F84(a).
There are other programmers but I must say this is by far the nicest programmer you’ll find short of the professional versions. And even some pro versions leave quite a bit to be desired.
The programmer operates on a wall-wart power adapter and a PC parallel port (yet programs the chips serially). I have added a 40-pin wide ZIF socket on mine to facilitate bigger PICs, and make it WAY easier to put chips in and take them out…