Thomas Phinney was born in the United States in 1965, but raised largely in Edmonton, Canada. After finishing an undergraduate degree in psychology and political science, he almost went into journalism, but instead pursued his passion for typography. He studied typography and printing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, getting his MS in 1997. Thomas briefly worked for a variety of clients, including Monotype, Apple and Microsoft, before joining Adobe's typographic staff in 1997 in San Jose. While at Adobe, he helped define the company's approach to implementing and testing OpenType fonts, and got an MBA from UC Berkeley.