Halma was first published in the United States in 1885 by E.I. Horsman Company (which called themselves "The Halma Company"). There was controversy surrounding Halma in the US as Milton Bradley Company also laid claim to the rights. It is unclear wherever there was any legal battles; but later Milton Bradley either lost the battle or backed down. They then produced and marketed a modified version as Eckha (see Variations page) in 1888-1889.
Parker Bros.' claim that George H. Monks sold the patent for Halma to them are unverified.
In England Spears Co. was definitely producing Halma games in July, 1893, the earliest date for which there exists records of individual product.
only 19th Century internationally-known classic game to have originated
in the United States. It is also the only 19th Century American game
still played in many countries around the world. Halma was last
manufactured in the U.S. by Parker Bros in 1961 and has almost
disappeared and been replaced by it's successor Chinese Checkers.
Halma is a game for 2 or 4 players (some rare, early versions of the game also explains rules for three players) and played on a flat square game board with 256 spaces (16x16). 19 pieces each in a two-player game, 13 pieces each in a four player game. In the rare three player game, each player has 15 pieces. In board games terminology, Halma (and Chinese Checkers) is part of the traversal branch of space games.
Two things make Halma unique:
1) The number
of pieces used at the start depends upon the number of players
Chinese Checkers is based on Halma and the only difference is that it is played on a six-pointed star-shaped game board and then can be played by 2 to 6 players. Each player has only 10 pieces each and the distance to the opponents home arena is fewer spaces away than in standard Halma. In some modern versions for children the board is smaller and the player have only six pieces each. In a two-player game many prefers to play with 15 pieces each.
The first game of Chinese Checkers was published and patented by the German game company Ravensburger (Otto Robert Maier) under the name Stern-Halma (stern means star in English; Star-Halma) in 1892. Spears & Sons introduced the star board to England in 1909.
The first Chinese Checkers game to be published in the United States was 'Hop Ching Checkers' in 1928 by J. Pressman & Co. This was exact the same game as the 1892 Star-Halma. The brothers Bill and Jack Pressman made up the name 'Chinese Checkers' during or shortly after 1928. The game was given a Chinese name and theme in keeping with the current interest in all things oriental (among them the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922 and the 'mah jongg' game that was introduced in 1923).
Illustration is of the Straits Mfg. Co. 1938 edition (image from AbstractStrategy.com)
Parlett, David: The Oxford history of Board games, Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0-19-212998-8
Whitehill, Bruce: American Games: a historical perspective. In: Board Game Studies 2, 1999, p.125
Whitehill, Bruce: Halma & Chinese Checkers: Origins and Variations, pg. 37-47. In: Step by Step: proceedings of the 4th Colloquium, Board Games in Academia, Editions Universitaires Fribourg Suisse, 2002. ISBN: 2-8271-0934-4
Whitehill, Bruce: Americanopoly. America as seen through its games, ed. by the Swiss Museum of Games, 2004, pp.50-51
For a list of game names, see AbstractGames.com. But they are missing one; Star Checkers (see the link above to Kansas State Historical museum)