Philip Zimmermann started Spaceheater Editions in February of 1979. The name was picked partially serendipitously (from a found electrical supply catalog for space-heaters) and partly as a tip-of-the-hat tribute to Martha Wilson's Franklin Furnace in New York, one of the first alternative spaces to start an archive of artists' books and publication. The name doesn't make nearly as much sense since his move to the extreme heat of the Southwest.
Zimmermann attended architecture school at Cornell University for two and a half years then transferred to the fine arts program there, receiving a BFA from Cornell with honors in 1973. He received his MFA in visual and photographic studies from the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY in 1980. VSW was started by Joan and Nathan Lyons and offered the master's degree through the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Zimmermann taught at Purchase College, SUNY from 1984 to 2008. He is a Professor Emeritus there. In 2008 he moved to Tucson, Arizona, to be closer to his wife, Karen. Since his arrival in Tucson, he has taught at the University of Arizona in the Graphic Design and Illustration Department (formerly the Visual Communication area), where he is professor.
Zimmermann is the son of a US Foreign Service officer and was born in Bangkok, Thailand. He grew up in a number of different cities, including Brussels, Belgium; London, UK; Madrid and Barcelona, Spain; Washington DC; and Lisbon, Portugal. He has also lived in Aix-en-Provence, France.