Steve Henn

Steve Henn is NPR's technology correspondent based in Menlo Park, California, who is currently on assignment with Planet Money. An award winning journalist, he now covers the intersection of technology and modern life - exploring how digital innovations are changing the way we interact with people we love, the institutions we depend on and the world around us. In 2012 he came frighteningly close to crashing one of the first Tesla sedans ever made. He has taken a ride in a self-driving car, and flown a drone around Stanford's campus with a legal expert on privacy and robotics.

But Steve's favorite technology stories are the ones that explain how little-understood innovations can change the way millions of us behave. Why do people buy cows in Farmville? Why are video games so compelling and why do some people have such a hard time setting Twitter aside? He is fascinated by how digital companies attempt to mold our behavior and study our every move in a world where we are constantly interacting with connected devices.

Prior to moving to Silicon Valley in 2010, Steve covered a wide range of topics for the public radio show Marketplace. His reporting kicked off the congressional travel scandals in late 2004, and helped expose the role of private military contractors at Abu Ghraib.

At Marketplace, Henn helped establish collaborations with the Center for Public Integrity and the Medill's School of Journalism.

Steve spent his early life on a farm in Iowa where his parents, who are biochemists, hoped to raise all their own food and become energy self-sufficient. It didn't work. During college Steve hoped to drop out and support himself by working in the fishing industry in Alaska. That also didn't work. After college he biked around the country with his sweetheart, Emily Johnson. He then followed Emily to Africa, volunteering at Soweto Community Radio. That did work out. He and Emily are now happily married with three daughters.

Steve graduated from Wesleyan University's College of Social Studies with honors and Columbia University's Graduate school of Journalism.


Planet Money
2:02 am
Thu June 11, 2015

A Suit That Turns A Person Into A Robot (Sort Of)

The evolution of exoskeletons, hanging on the wall at Ekso Bionics in Richmond, Calif.
Peter Earl McCollough for NPR

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 8:30 am

A few years ago, the Defense Department invited researchers from around the world to build robots that could respond to disasters. The machines were supposed to go up stairs, drive a car and clear debris.

The competition to test the robots was last week. For many of the robots, it did not go well.

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3:38 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Clinton's Private Email Server Has Advantages, Vulnerabilities

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 8:11 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

3:00 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Silk Road Operator Ross Ulbricht Convicted On All Counts

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 5:33 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

3:27 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Finding, Selling Flaws In Apple's Code Can Be Lucrative Work

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 4:33 pm

Every time there is a big new release of some Apple software or operating system, hackers get to work — finding a flaw in Apple's computer code can be very lucrative. Criminals and even governments are willing to pay top dollar for the ability to get inside our iPhones.

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3:04 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Jury Selection To Begin For Accused Silk Road Mastermind

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 2:52 pm

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All Tech Considered
1:36 am
Fri December 26, 2014

Sony Hack Highlights The Global Underground Market For Malware

The toxic ingredients of a cyberattack like the one North Korea is accused of unleashing on Sony Pictures are available in underground markets.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 12:12 pm

There are global underground markets where anyone can buy and sell all the malicious code for an attack like the one North Korea is accused of unleashing on Sony Pictures.

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Digital Life
2:16 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

'Jackie' From 'Rolling Stone' UVA Story Among Latest Doxing Victims

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 12:36 pm

Over the weekend, a conservative blogger published what he claims is the real name of the alleged victim in Rolling Stone's discredited gang rape story. It's the latest example of what's become known as doxing — distributing personal information about someone online in an effort to embarrass, frighten or intimidate. Doxing has become increasingly common during highly charged news events by aggressive partisans on the left and right.

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Planet Money
6:40 am
Tue October 21, 2014

When Women Stopped Coding

Quoctrung Bui

Originally published on Tue October 28, 2014 1:41 pm

Modern computer science is dominated by men. But it hasn't always been this way.

A lot of computing pioneers — the people who programmed the first digital computers — were women. And for decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged, even as the share of women in other technical and professional fields kept rising.

What happened?

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Planet Money
1:19 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Alibaba Found Success By Acting Like A Dating Site

Originally published on Thu September 18, 2014 3:49 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



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Planet Money
12:41 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Minecraft's Business Model: A Video Game That Leaves You Alone

Will Davidson and his Minecraft creation, modeled off the Santa Cruz Mission
Steve Henn

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 12:38 pm

Minecraft is deceptively simple video game. You're dropped into a virtual world, and you get to build things. It's like a digital Lego set, but with infinite pieces.

Its simplicity makes it a big hit with kids, like 10-year old Will Davidson. Last year, Will built a Spanish mission for a school report. He modeled his off the Santa Cruz Mission. "I made a chapel over here," Davidson says. "I also have a bell tower."

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