Schmidt was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1966. He then attended Case Western Reserve University, where he completed his Ph.D. in physics in 1969. After receiving his degree, he became a professor at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, teaching physics, astronomy, and science fiction. Schmidt was editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine from 1978 to his retirement on 29 August 2012. Additionally, he has served as a member of the Board of Advisers for the National Space Society and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame and was Guest of Honor at BucConeer, the 1998 World Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore, Maryland.