A microcontroller is a computer control system on a single chip. It has many electronic circuits built into it, which can decode written instructions and convert them to electrical signals. The microcontroller will then step through these instructions and execute them one by one. As an example of this a microcontroller could be instructed to measure the temperature of a room and turn on a heater if it goes cold.
Microcontrollers are now changing electronic designs. Instead of hard wiring a number of logic gates together to perform some function we now use instructions to wire the gates electronically. The list of these instructions given to the microcontroller is called a program.