My apologies for the lack of given information or my knowledge in this subject. I haven't done much electronic-related before (I know how to use basic IC's such as the 555's, 4017's, etc), but I've never worked with any microcontrollers before.
I'm basically searching for a (cheap/well-priced) programmable microcontroller which can connect to a computer through USB and be controlled via a Visual Basic (preferably) application and control the brightness of at least 7 different LEDs at the same time. I have no idea where to go looking for one that'd suit my needs, nor do I know what specifications it needs (other than what I've said).
As for programming it, I'm unsure of what I'd need to install the program onto it (some sort of device?), but any programming language is fine - I've been writing software for over 3 years, it shouldn't be a problem.
I'd also rather do it this way than buy a cheap Arduino clone so I can learn from this and have a project to do (despite not knowing much, electronics is a hobby of mine). I should probably also mention that I've been searching around for over 2 hours now, but not come across anything conclusive.
Any responses would be greatly appreciated, thank you :)